Tuesday, 17 April 2012

How do I Plot my novels? - Plotting Blogfest

The letter P has arrived for those doing the A to Z Challenge, which means it’s time for Madeleine Maddocks’ Plotting blogfest. Pop over to her blog at Scribble and Edit and read how others answer this one question:
How do you Plot your novels?

Well, I used to be a total Pantser. The only goal I had in mind was a vague idea of the ending. I mean “good guy defeats the bad” idea. Yes, I typed my first story not knowing the full ending. Not only that, but I’d no clue about the full motives of either side let alone the Main Characters.
Looking back, I can see why it took me so long to polish it.
Now I’ve firmly planted myself in both Plotter and Pantser territories. My plotting has become more refined (I mean, come on now, it couldn’t do much worse). Now I go in making sure I know my way out. I’ve often got the chapters sorted too.
Each of my stories has taken a different process. With some, I’ve gone into it knowing exactly how each scene will play out that plotting is down to just keeping track of where I am. With others ... it takes a bit of pondering until the full layout flows into place.

Most of my ideas are old and I forget how they were planned, so here’s how it went for my current WiP, Dark One’s Mistress, from idea to writing:
Playing Overlord2 on playstation. Mind wanders while thumbs mindlessly enslave and kill silly pixel people. Idea pops up on a bad guy who isn’t a bad guy but is perceived as a bad guy by some while technically doing bad guy things. (This is while I’m sucking souls outta said pixel people.)
*Note to brain: shelve under WTF?*
[A number of days later, same game.] Idea begins to grow.
*Note to brain: desist with storybooking attempt*
[Another day.] Give in while washing dishes.
*Initiating plotting sequence*
Wash more dishes and ponder on reasons for not-bad-bad-guy to be not-bad-bad-guy instead of bad-guy-bad-guy. Think on what he wants most and what he’d do to get it. True Main Character emerges. [Sleep.]
Make bed and think on how Main Character would get into situation and what she’d do to get out of it. Secondary characters surface. Twists in plot emerge. [Sleep and repeat.]
[A month after idea arose.] WRITE SOMETHING DOWN.
(This part is practically the same for every story I do)
Plan the first few chapters and half-plot the last few. Then, I’ll see if there are any logical connections that can be taken between the beginning and the end and add them. This is where all my pondering will solidify and my world-building sticks. While world building, I’ll check to see where things can go wrong for characters and add some.
But it doesn’t stop there. While I type the beginning chapters I’ve plotted, my Pantser side kicks in and throws the occasional wacky idea into the ring, this can be adding whole scenes or putting a twist on something I didn’t first think of or, occasionally, such as in the dialogue I’m writing, it’ll take a scenic detour while I’m aiming for one line. Sometimes it works, other times I have to throttle the little sub-muse until it surrenders.

No matter what, whether I Pants or I Plot, I always go in having a definite ending in mind.

10 comments:

  1. Hi, Aldrea! It's nice to meet you! Especially since our plotting methods are fairly similar. I call myself a pantster mostly, because I never go into writing with a fleshed out plot. But you've said it well -- I have a beginning planned out, and I often know exactly what will happen in the first few chapters. The ending is half-plotted, with room to change if needed. The middle is ... uh ... a big gap I have to leap.

    Good luck on your WIP!

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    1. Lol. Yup, that was me at story number two and onwards. I'm getting better with beginnings and ends, but rarely do I have a fully developed middle.

      Honestly, I think only other writers get it.

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  2. That sounds a lot like me :) By the time I finish all the cleaning and sit down with my well thought out story plot, it all washes away. I take a long time to polish too, but I don't mind. I love spending time with my characters :)

    .......dhole

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    1. Yes, and all that time means you don't want them to leave. So your mind makes up another story to give them a reason to stay.

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  3. Bless you for taking part in my plotting blogfest. Love the sound of your wacky ideas, they take you to places that can lead to others things. I have been a pantser until I realised the error of my ways and now I'm trying to plot and the rogue thoughts you mention can only be creatively a good thing I reckon.

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    1. Hey it was fun. And yes, my ideas may sound wacky.
      You should see my dreams. They's crazy. I even wrote a trio of novellas based on one.

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  4. I'm becoming less of a pantser, too. But I probably still do less preplanning than you. Depends on the story though.

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    1. This is an upside to pantsing, but I find the combo approach works best for me.

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  5. I'm a total plotter. I'd never get anywhere by pantsing it.

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    1. I never thought plotting would stick with me this far. Overjoyed it has.

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