Tag Archives | plotting

How I Write (You mean I have to have a plot?)

Well, technically, yeah. You need a plot. You know the whole character wants something and can’t get it and tries multiple times until he succeeds? Yeah. That.

 Recently I experienced an epic total pantsing failure.

 I tried. Honestly. I said, okay, I have an idea. I have a title. I’m just going to go with it. I wrote 6 chapters. And though there are some funny moments, touching moments, and okay dialogue – it was missing a backbone.

 My story was a gushy, mushy, gelatin-like substance with nothing solid to hold it together. But I still had my idea and my title.

 So I started plotting. And it was as good as eating chocolate peanut butter ice cream.

 How I plot:

  1. I open a document and start free writing a bunch of What if and What then questions.
  2. I let it sit a couple days. I research. I let my brain work on it while I do other things. I dream. I think about the story I would want to read.
  3. I go back and pull out what sounds good. I write a logline. And then a paragraph summary. And I build from there. This might change drastically over the course of the story. My first idea is never my best.  
  4. Then I’ll work out the structure according to the 3 acts. Inciting force. First act climax. Middle of story twist. Dark moment. And then I build scene by scene toward the climax.
  5. And I’ll write a scene by scene outline.
  6. Finally, I start writing the first draft.

Does my outline change? Yes. And I adjust from there.

Constantly through out the outlining and writing I ask: How can I make this scene bigger or better? How can I make things worse for my character? How can I add emotion?

Click on the banner to find out how other writers plot! How do you plot? Any tips or tricks? Plotter or pantser? Share. 

Have you entered my magnficent middle grade give away?

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I discovered the one thing harder than keeping track of a run away plot!

Before I reveal my amazing discovery. Let me tell you, it was HOT today! And it’s only June. Okay, end of May, almost June.

It was so hot that I couldn’t bring myself to mow the lawn. What was my husband thinking? Instead, I brought my kids to the lake after school today and – I actually kept my feet in the water. And if you know me, that is truly amazing. It definitely helped that it was 90 degrees, which is truly incredible for New Hampshire. Plus, it’s been high 80s all week.

So, while I stood at the water’s edge contemplating at how refreshing a dip in the lake would feel and wishing I’d worn my bathingsuit (kinda), it hit me – a task so stressful that it quite honestly uses up my full mental capacity.

 A conversation? Impossible.

Plotting while my kids swim? No way.

Fantasizing about a book deal? Not gonna happen.

And here it is – the one thing that is way harder than keeping track of a runaway plot:

Keeping track of my kids in the water when a dozen other little boys have blonde hair too!  And someone is trying to talk to me. Scary! Heck, if I can do that, I can write a story.

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Plot and LOST and Unanswered questions.

A plane crash. Fate vs. Choice. Survival. Secret societies. Kidnappings. Time travel. Immortals. Ghosts. Captivating setting. Love triangles. Pushing a button or the world explodes. Miraculous healings. Deserted ships and planes. Betrayal and revenge. A strange statue. World mythologies. Flashbacks. Three dimensional characters. A moving island. A smoke monster. Romance. Tragedy. Humor. Heartbreak.

Sounds like a good book, doesn’t it? One that each time you read it, you’d catch more and understand more. Layers and layers of storytelling.

LOST did so many things right to hold viewers captivated week by week. They’d answer one question and introduce another.  

But, all that said, there were dropped story threads and unanswered questions. So many, I can’t even remember them all.

Here are my questions:

  • What did the numbers have to do with everything?
  • Why wasn’t Anna Lucia included in the church at the end?
  • Charles Widmore didn’t seem to play as big as part in the show as I thought. What’s up with that?
  • What happened to Walt? Poor kid.
  • Why didn’t Hurley have a reunion with Libby?

Time to vent. What were your unanswered questions. Or, what aspect of the plotting did you like and can apply to your own writing?

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Geez. Why didn’t I stick to plotting?

Sorry if you clicked over to find yet another post on the whole plotting vs pantzing debate. This post does not involve an intricate plotting system using Play-doh, pennies, and popsicle sticks that I invented to craft the perfect novel (even though I tried with no success).

But I am a plotter through and through. I outline. I take notes. I dream. And my creativity is at its best when I have an idea of where I am going. So, why didn’t I apply plotting  to real life? I must have had a lapse of judgement or maybe it was the cold, I don’t know.

We took the kids skiing this past week to a mountain we’d never skied before. I’m so used to going to a mountain that I know, arriving at the top, and choosing a random path.

Well, I hadn’t skied with my youngest cutie son in a while, so I mistakenly trusted my husband’s judgement about taking the chairlift to the top of the mountain on the first run. And, I didn’t plan.

Wise Hubbie:  “Why don’t we take a look at the trail map before we go down.”

Oh so foolish me: “Nah, we’ll just take a green (easy trail). No problem.”

I decided to take a trail “by the seat of my pants”. I mean, the trail was marked with a green circle. It should have stayed green the whole way down!

Part way down, the green changed to a blue square – a slightly steeper, harder trail not meant for beginners. I cheered my son on and then watched as his careful snowplowing and carving turned to sheer panic and he lost all control.

Thank God there were no trees. His skis slammed into a snowbank, his ski boots popped out, and he completed a flip worthy of Gold medalist Shaun White (almost). Then, he landed face down in the icy snow.

Tramautized and crying, it then took him an hour to get down the slopes.

Lesson learned. I’m sticking to plotting.

Do you find that how you approach your writing is a carry-over from how your approach life? Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

(My son is fine. A few scratches, but no emotional scars.)

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