Thursday, July 26, 2012

Plotting & Planning--For Creative Types

When you sit down to write a story, how do you know where to start? Where it ends? How do you decide when to reveal the identity of the bad guy? Do you know when you start that the heroine will get to kiss the hot boy she meets in, oh, say around chapter 3? Do you know from the get-go that they will end up together? Or do you envision it as a cliffhanger, leaving the reader on the edge of his/her seat, possibly cursing you and throwing the book across the room?

All of this is plotting. 

And for all you pansters out there--Tonya Kappes, I'm not singling you out. Nope, I sure am not. (See Pansting post here.)--even if this is all you know before you start writing, I hate to tell you but you've plotted. *dodges airborne tomatoes* Before you boo me off the stage, listen.

When I wrote Across the Galaxy, I pansted my way along. I wrote based on what I wanted to happen in that moment. I was a new writer. I was just having fun. I was letting my creativity shine. <---- ATTENTION PANSTERS: have you ever told yourself something like this before? No? Okay, just me then.

Now maybe you're the type of person who can write this way and it magically comes together for you. You've got a knack the rest of us just don't "get" that makes you able to weave a story, letting it come to you as you write, and when you get to the end, you're able to tie it up into a neat little bow--all on the first try. If so, I owe you a drink--Hell, a bottle--cuz that just ain't me. 

Yes, writers are creative. 
Right-brained or  whatever. (Although some of us are more gifted and therefore use BOTH sides of their brain  which means they can write their ass off AND understand the analytical business end of it. Ahem, Angeline Kace. <---this is me NOT hating. hehe.)

Across the Galaxy took no less than four overhauls/reworks/rewrites/whateverthecrapyouwanttotcallit. Dirty Blood took two and a half. (Yes, half. Its a long story and best saved for another post.) Cold Blood took one draft plus HEAVY, HEAVY, like an anchor holding you to the bottom of the ocean HEAVY edit. Whisper took one--until I realized the ending was lame and I threw the last four chapters out the window and rewrote it like two weeks before publishing it. End of March was a little nuts for me.

This brings us to Blood Bond. ONE DRAFT. The edit/read-through I did (I usually do at least two before it goes to the betas) was so light I thought I'd lost my ability to spot "suckage." <-- This is something I'm usually pretty good at in my own work. But I wasn't finding nearly the amount of issues I normally did and I was freaking out. I thought, "I've lost it. I can't see the mistakes." And then it dawned on me (around ch 10 because I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes.) that maybe.... MAYBE... its because there weren't as many.

The connection? My Plotting.

With Blood Bond, I'd gone from making a few notes in a spiral-bound to this: First, I write the concept in incomplete sentences in a notebook. (Sidenote: I fill an entire notebook with each story now. It sits beside me at the computer at all times.) Then I figure out beginning and ending. Write that down. Then I start to develop scenes. The mid-point should be pretty climactic with a few supporting scenes leading up and away. I don't worry about what order to put them in, I just write what I think would be cool. A sentence or two per scene just to get the idea down. Then I start to realize the story arc. Then I go to my board.

My board probably makes me look slightly neurotic. It'll be more so when I enlarge the space so that it spans an entire room. Which will happen. It's dry erase and the cool thing is that its stick-on plastic instead of a heavy board I had to lug up and hang. moving it is easy. Putting it up was easy. I can add more, take some away, whatever. I got it from Amazon for like $10 or something. (I heart you Amazon!) Anyway, the board is basically my version of one of those spider diagrams you had to make in school. You know the one, where you had a main thought in a bubble in the middle, and then smaller thoughts branching out from there. Its kinda like that, only its in sequential order of my scenes. Aka: chapters. Here's a pic to give you an idea:
Yes, the paint on my bedroom wall is blood red. #ThatsHowIRoll

The middle board is my plot. The loose leaf paper tacked on either side are character lists, plot threads I don't want to forget about, character descriptions, and even a map of Wood Point, so the logistics make sense.

FOR THE WRITERS: Do not let all of that ^^ overwhelm you or freak you out. If that's too much planning for you, I understand. but if it's what you need, to keep the deets straight, go for it. Do what works for you. Think outside the box on being a planner. I hope this helps!

FOR EVERYONE: Thanks for stopping by and stalking, I mean reading this post. =) And because we wouldn't be "us" without giving something away, here's the prize pack this week:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Autumn said...

I like a plotting method that has me guessing until the end, but makes sense. I do not like the plots that have me confused and back reading.

Lowcountry Blogger said...

Plotting is hard for me because i get to complicated.. then i leave it alone and just write and see what the characters do. I guess I switch back and forth.. :0)

Lisa Rayns said...

I'm hoping to perfect a plotting method too. Thanks for the tips!