Sunday, January 22, 2006
Plotting Techniques - Eureka
So, for a while now I've been struggling to find a way to draft out a plot that doesn't make me so frustrated I give up in disgust.

I was already resigned to the fact that I am not capable of writing without a good idea of where I'm going and when. I am definitely NOT what is popularly known as a "pantser".

So I started trying to find a way to plan out where I'm going without allowing myself to stay in the land where no actual writing gets done because a huge amount of planning and "stuff" has to be done before I can write. I am good at letting myself fall into that trap and I know it.

So after some reading, some talking to other authors and some experimenting, I have discovered the following:
1) Writing plot outlines on the computer drives me nuts - I become too wrapped up in the formatting of the damned outline and let myself fuss way too much with it.
2) I do not plot in sequential order through a book. I know where I start, I know where I end but I think of things at random points through the rest of the story.
3) I hate worksheets - I dislike the formality and the idea that with no worksheets I have no way to plan.

So I did a lot of googling and searching around. I read some pointers by authors on how they plot and some blog entries from Shannon McKelden and I came to a few realizations on what I need in a process....
1) It has to be computer independent at the start so I don't play formatting distraction games and I don't feel that I can't plot unless at the computer.
2) I need to be able to scrawl down ideas completely out of order and make sense of them later.
3) I have to use something easy to tote about and reorder at will without rewriting a lot.

So I took out a pack of index cards late last night and started by writing one story idea per card.

Then I picked the card for the book I've been trying to work on and started writing down scenes, one per card. I didn't set any rules other than I had to figure out later what they meant so some have a lot of details, some have only a few.

I went into this exercise thinking I had knew of a few scenes for this book. By the time I stopped about 20 minutes later, I had 34 cards, not including the concept card. Ummm - wow

I even wrote down a few ideas for some of the other concept cards and just clipped them behind the concept to keep them together.

Now I am going to sit down and put the cards in a workable order - how I think the story can flow. I may have to put in a few more, I may discard some iffy ones but I'm already a lot further along than I was just yesterday morning.

Maybe I have found a system that can work for me without having to struggle so hard against the "rules" the system imposes.

I'm excited :)

- Maura


  1. Fabulous, Maura :D See? Plotting is different for everyone, and you just have to find what works for you. It's the trying method after method and moving on that gets to be the hard part :D

    Oh! And love the new look.

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