The Grid

I started a grid for “Ashland.” A spreadsheet that maps out each characters’ crises and the things leading up to them. I’m going on a model of “build-up,” “scary thing,” “crisis,” “new circumstance,” with each character experiencing roughly four crises of various intensity. This should, I think, give me a lot of scary things happening.

It already gave me a good idea of the kinds of things that need to happen in the middle of the novel.

Plus, my goal is not to have everyone hitting their plot points at the same time, but to make sure that they’re hitting them–that they have their own narrative arcs and aren’t just interactive scenery for the main character.

The thing I’d like to figure out is how to leave them in the grid so I can be sure I like each character’s arc, while also somehow ordering them so that I can see what has to happen in what order. Like, the church lady can’t come to the house to help one character until the other character goes to church and meets her.

I’m thinking about some kind of color coding, I guess? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just number things?

Anyway, the thing that I’m still wrestling with is how to plot to ratchet up the creepiness.

I don’t really know what I’m doing, I guess I what I’m trying to say.


I walked the dog this morning, since it seems unlikely that we’ll get to walk for the rest of the week. And we made it the whole way just wet but not muddy. Until the end, my driveway maybe ten feet away, when I stepped in a huge mud puddle. Up to my ankle.

Our neighbor has planted some trees in the wettest spot between our two yards. I wonder if it will help. At the least, it should help dry the yard up more quickly after it gets all boggy like this.

Meanwhile, our lawnmower is in the shop and our grass needs mowing and I am at a loss as to how to make that happen. I know no teenagers. I don’t know who else you hire to just mow your lawn once.