Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Have a Plot!

It would seem so obvious, wouldn’t it? That if you are going to write a novel, you should have a plot?

That’s how it is supposed to work. But for me? That is too much like right. So in the past each time I’ve sat down to write a novel, it started with a scene or a character or a quirky gimmick to which I attached myself. I start writing and 90K words later I’m no closer to a cohesive plot or the end than I was when I finished that first scene. And I don’t know how to finish them so I try to forget about them by moving on to my next disaster. I have three mostly completed manuscripts that are disasters like that.

So this time I decided that I should try to write a novel like a grown up. I’ve actually sat down and sketched out a plot. As is a good idea in this sub-genre, I know who get whacked and why and who does the whacking. As other writers have used I made a poster board to hang over my workspace. It’s a crafty thing that displays bits and pieces of my story as I envision it and I’ll hang it over my workspace this month for inspiration.

I’m not married to every tiny detail, there is plenty of room for me to breathe and breed but I feel much more confident about actually finishing this one.

Anyone feel like sharing their plotting strategy?


Jenyfer Matthews said...

Funny you should mention plotting because I just sat down this morning and wrote up the time line for the next part of my own WIP - only I used a notebook.

Good luck with your story!

Christie Craig said...


I'm a "plot by the seat of my pants." I know where it's going, but if I write too much down I feel as if I've already written it and it begins to feel old.

I think the thing that keeps me honest with my plots is the rule of cause and effect. If whatever happens next is due to what happened before, then it's a little of a safety net that I'm not just ping ponging around. But seriously, I think plotting is like sex. There really isn’t just one way to do it. What matters is that it keeps your interest and if there’s payoff when it’s all said and done.

Crime Scene Christie

Bethany True said...

I think what I'm doing now is someplace between pantsing and planning.

It helps to know a little about my heroine and where the plot is going but as I look at my outline I have three or four potential love interests for her. I think that keeps the writing fresh, as Christie describes without me finding myself in the middle of a book not knowing which direction to go.

I used to use a notebook Jenyfer. Storyboarding makes everything so visual to me. I even have iTunes playlists with tracks that remind me of my characters. It really helps me get inside the story.

Anonymous said...

I suck at plotting. I usually have a vague idea what I want to do, but the execution is always elusive.

Jenyfer Matthews said...

My notebook isn't the most organized of items - I open it up until I find a clean page and then go for it. Kind of funny to look back at the notes I've taken for books I've already finished - and see where they veered off course, LOL.

Most of my plot I just keep in my head and make up the details as I go along. But then I'm not killing people in my stories so I can be a bit more flexible with things than you guys!

Jenyfer Matthews said...

PS - I don't think that my hubby would appreciate a visible story board and now that my daughter can read I don't think I would put one out even if he said it was okay!

Allie Hollister said...

I used to be a pantster, but my last novel, after about 90 pages, I decided I didn't have a clue (no pun intended) as to what my plot twists or points were, or where to put them when I figured it out. I decided to do a modified storyboard, in a notebook (loose leaf so I can add pages), with a separate page for each PP or PT, and filled in scenes as they came to me. As I write I get scene ideas, and then I just fill in the scenes between the major twists. So far it's made for my best story yet.
I'm using this structure to plot my NANOWRIMO novel.

Allie Hollister

Kathy Bacus said...

Great topic, Bethany! I usually have a general idea about a basic plot when I begin the pre-writing process but since I'm a character-intensive writer I have to know a lot about each character in my book unless they perform only a walk-on role. I do a number of character worksheets first (GMC) and those help me define my plot. I use a huge dry erase board to create a storyboard that I can easily erase or move things around on.

Doing a lot of pre-writing work up front has made it possible for me to write each book in less time--and with fewer roadblocks or plot glitches.

Speaking of which, back to the ol' storyboard!

~Bullet Hole~

Nathalie said...

Very interesting to read... I can't even write a schedule without having a head-ache afterwards!

Lily said...

I never think while I read a book that there is so much organizing and I think the plot comes super easily. How mistaken I was!