Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Plotting and Scheming

It all sounds so devious, doesn't it?

So I'm working on Book #2 and since Book #1 was such a train wreck when I finished the first draft exercising the Pantser Method, I've decided this time around to try the Plotter Method (to find a great explanation for the pro's and con's of each, click here - thanks, Roni!) even though I feel like it goes against my creative grain. In order to grow as a writer we have to be willing to try things we might not normally be inclined to try, right?

Naturally, I remembered bits and pieces of information about plotting from my high school English classes (Hi, Mrs. Groves!), but I wanted to go a little bit deeper so I picked up a few of the plotting books that I had on my bookshelf. James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure is the one I keep returning to for mechanics and ideas, but the most awesome advice with regard to plotting that I've gotten (and how horrible is it that I can't remember where I read it or heard it!) has been to write the synopsis first. Some people might freak out at that idea, but to me it just made sense. It also saves you some of the headache at the end from having to summarize your entire book into a few paragraphs - you've already done it!

Another thing that I really enjoy doing is creating my characters first. Fortunately, the main character for Book #2 is a character that was introduced in Book #1. This time, obviously, I'm fleshing out that character more, and Jody Hedlund has a great Character Worksheet (it's FREE!) that I have begun using to do just that.

What are some of your favorite plotting tips? Feel free to add any resources that you've found helpful in plotting your story too!

Happy Writing!

*Photo courtesy of Google Images


  1. I really admire novelists and their whole process-- whether they are a pantser or a plotter. One of my favorite authors, Katherine Center, explained in her blog that she starts with a story outline and templates for characters, but once she really gets into the book, the templates fall away. She said it took 6 weeks for her to write the rough draft (for her first novel) and a year to revise it.

    Writing a memoir has been an interesting process. I've done mind maps, outlines and a book proposal... and in the beginning I spent a lot of time just writing scenes, even though I wasn't quite sure how they fit. I guess, for me, it's a combo of method and madness that's getting it done.

  2. Go to the plotting dark side! I'm a plotter. Love it. Couldn't write a book without it. I'm also a HUGE fan of writing the synopsis first.

    My best tip is to plot each scene. Who's pov is it in? What is the pov character's GMC for the scene? How does the character grow?

  3. I knew about Roni's awesome sheet, but I didn't know about Jody's! Thanks:)

    Plotting can feel like pulling teeth, but after a few jarring janks you don't feel a thing!

  4. Angie - Katherine's approach sounds a bit like what I'm trying, so I'm going to Google her! I would imagine your process (writing the proposal especially) helps to center your focus - which is what I think the synopsis does for fiction.

    Jill - I think it was YOU that suggested it (the synopsis first). That was bugging me SO BAD! The minute I saw your name I thought, "IT WAS HER!" Thanks for the tips!!!

    Tamika - That is EXACTLY what plotting has felt like for me - pulling teeth! It feels so unnatural for me, but I'm learning (and hopefully numbing!) :)

  5. Plotting and outlining certainly helps and I do the latter. I only do it to the chapter level though and leave the rest for the characters to figure out.

  6. I am also switching from pantsing to plotting and I wont be satisfied till I become a bonafide plotter.
    I have a storyboard series on plotting I did in the last week of september check it out if you can

  7. You and I are in about the same boat. I've been using Jody's character worksheets as well, and I'm attempting to plot before I tear into my first draft as well.

  8. Hi right back at you, Bethie. Have you ever looked at Randy Ingermanssen's Snowflake Method?

    Your Twitter post was hilarious, Beth!