The Plot Manager works like a corkboard or white board, where you can add index cards or sticky notes which describe key parts of your plot, then shuffle them around.
This can be useful for planning a novel before writing it, or for easily rearranging scenes of an existing draft.
In this post we’ll look at:
- Index Cards
- Plot Templates
- Related Info
- How the Plot Manager interacts with other sections
The core of the plot manager is the index cards.
Add an index card
You can add an index card to the board by clicking the green button that says ‘Add Index Card’.
Edit an index card
To edit an index card, hover over the card, click on the context menu (the three dots in a vertical line), and click ‘Edit’.
You will now be able to edit the card’s title and description. When you are finished, click the ‘save’ button.
Note – Depending on your browser, you may also be able to move a card into edit mode by double clicking it.
Drag and drop index cards to rearrange them
You can shuffle the index cards around by dragging and dropping, using the grabber icon (four arrows pointing up, down, left right).
Note – you can actually drag a card by clicking anywhere in the header section (above the green line), not only the grabber.
Delete an index card
To delete an index card, click the context menu button in the top right corner of the card, then click ‘delete’.
Jump straight to an index card’s corresponding scene
Every time you create an index card, it creates a corresponding scene in the manuscript section. You can jump straight to that scene by clicking the context menu and then clicking ‘open scene’.
Rather than creating your index cards from scratch – the Novel Factory offers a range of plot templates based on popular genres, to help launch your story from the starting blocks.
Selecting a plot template
In the Plot Manager section, click the green button: ‘Add Plot Template’.
This will call up a popup, which will give you nine popular genre plot templates to choose from.
If you click on one of the options, it will give you more information about that template, and the beats that are included in it.
Browse the plot templates until you find the one best suited to your novel. Click ‘Generate from Template’.
The app will generate a series of index cards for you – one for each beat of the Plot Template. In many templates, each of the cards will also include extra details about what you might expect to find in that beat of the plot.
You can then play around with the template, adding extra index cards, changing the text on them and shuffling around by following the instructions described above.
You can organise your index cards into chapters.
There are two ways to add chapters:
Clicking the Add Chapter button in the toolbar towards the top right.
This calls up a popup where you can name the chapter.
(If it’s not the very first chapter, then you can also choose whether you would like to add it at the beginning or the end of the novel.)
Click add and the Chapter will be created, and all Index Cards will be contained within in.
The second way to add a chapter is to insert it among existing chapters – see the next section for instructions.
Inserting a chapter
You can also insert a chapter anywhere within existing chapters.
To do this you must first have some existing chapters. When you do, hover over a chapter header, then click the context menu button which appears (the three dots in a vertical line).
You can then choose ‘insert chapter before’ which will insert a new chapter before the one you are on, or ‘insert chapter after’, which will insert a new chapter after the one you are on.
To edit the chapter details, hover over the chapter header, then click the context menu button that appears.
Click Edit Chapter Details.
This will call up a popup where you can edit the name of the chapter.
Chapters can be rearranged by dragging and dropping.
All scenes within that chapter will be moved with it.
Scenes can also be dragged and dropped between chapters, and into different orders within the chapters.
To delete a chapter, hover over the chapter header, then click the button with the three dots that appears. Select ‘Delete Chapter’.
Deleting a chapter does not delete the scenes contained into it. Those scenes are moved to the preceding chapter.
The related info side panel can be opened by clicking on the little tab towards the bottom right of the screen. It can be tucked out of the way by clicking on the same tab.
This panel shows all associated information for the selected Index Card. (You can select an Index Card by clicking on it and you can tell which scene is selected because it will have a thick black border around it.)
Important note – as every index card is linked to a scene, they share the same related info. So whatever you add to an Index Card, will also be visible when you go to view the associated scene in the Manuscript area.
There are a range of fields which are included in the Related Info of an Index Card as default, including: POV character, weather, date and time, and goal to decision cycle.
You can also link characters, locations, items and other scenes to an Index Card. See below for how to do that.
Linking Related Info (characters, locations, items, scenes and notes)
To link something, click the little chain link icon towards the top right of the Related Info panel.
This will expand the ‘link something’ field. (This ‘link something’ field may already be visible if you have opened it before).
Click where it says ‘link something’, and a list of all the available things to the linked will appear.
If you start typing, it will filter the available options by what you type. Note that you can link characters, locations, items, notes and other scenes.
Select the desired item and click on it to link it to the Index Card (Scene) and have it display in the Related Info.
Subplots work a little differently to the other things you can link.
In the subplot manager, if a plot event is aligned with a scene, then it will automatically show in the Related Info for the scene (Index Card).
If you want to move a plot event to a different scene, this needs to be done from within the Subplot Manager.
Please see the section on the Subplot Manager for more information on how this works.
Filtering the Related Info
You can use the icons in the toolbar to filter which related info is visible in the Related Info sidebar.
When all the icons are set to visible, all related info will be shown. However, you can choose to temporarily hide specific sections of the related info as follows:
- Scene Details
When you click on one of those icons, a strikethrough will appear over it. This indicates that the related info from that section (i.e. characters) is now hidden.
How the Plot Manager interacts with other sections
The Plot Manager and the Manuscript section
As mentioned above, each Index Card is linked to a Scene in the Manuscript, and these are intrinsically connected. So if you delete an Index Card, it will delete the associated Scene in the Manuscript Section.
Likewise, if you delete a scene in the Manuscript section, the corresponding Index Card will also be deleted.
The Plot Manager and the Subplot Manager
All the Index Cards in the Plot Manager appear in a single column to the left hand side of the Subplot Manager.
This allows you to create a cross-referenced grid of subplots, and associate them with the relevant scene.
See the Subplot Manager scene for more information on how to create and use subplots.
The Plot Manager and the Character Viewpoint Synopses
In the Characters section, each character can have a Character Viewpoint Synopsis. This means that you can tell the whole story from the point of view of that character.
This is done by writing their point of view during each scene. So in the Character Viewpoint Synopsis section, you will be able to view a vertical column of the Index Cards for reference as you write your synopsis for that character.
So if you delete an Index Card, the information written in any of the Character Viewpoint Synopses for that scene will also be deleted.