Tag Archives: plotter

Post-Planning

11 Jan

The whole point of planning is to do it before what it is you are undertaking. It’s so all you have to do is follow the path instead of wading through the wilderness. What if I told you, though, there’s also something like post-planning?

You might think I’m mad. And I am, but that’s neither here nor underwear. Personally, I have tried to plot and plan, but my biggest dream of actually plotting most of my novel and writing like the blazes because of it has only happened once. A small thought stepped forward while I was trying to train myself to plot and it occurred to me that writing a first draft IS the plotting. You write it and afterwards you make a lay-out of your scenes and character growth and all that. It makes it easier to check your work and then make any necessary changes. Basically it makes you an edit-plotter, though I’m sure there’s a cooler name for it. Hang on, I’ll think of one.

This means that really there are no wing-it writers, there are just different ways of plotting. What ever works for one writer, will not work for the other. I mean, think about it, our characters are so different from each other. Doesn’t it make sense that humans are are also very different from each other?

DEATH DRAGON WRITER. Yes, that’s the cooler the name. Spread the word. You’re writers, you’ll be good at that.

 

Say What Now?

25 Jan

Dialogue is something a lot of writers fear. The thought of it makes them crawl up the wall or hide in a closet with a mop as a weapon of choice. Why? Because a lot of writers find it difficult and dialogue is a very important part of a story.
I myself don’t have any trouble with it. In fact, I think it’s the one aspect that comes most naturally to me. So, in order to give advice I’ve been questioning my brain as to what would help someone write better dialogues in case that is a weak point of theirs.

The main thing I’ve come up with is this: KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS. I have never filled in a list with all the facts of my character. I don’t need to know what their favourite kind of shoes are or what vegetable they hate. I kind of feel what I need to know, if that makes sense. I catch their vibe like the string of a balloon and let it take me to where it wants to go. Perhaps this is why I’m a good wing-it writer. It could be that this doesn’t work for plotting writers, but either way the point is that you get to know your characters so well that when you write them, you become them. Then it’s just a matter of responding. So if you’re a plotter, fill in that sheet if you want! Fill in as much as you want up until the point that you feel you’re in the character’s head.

Once you’re in your character’s head you put it to the test. Start with a random scene where your character responds to a situation. Then write a scene where your character responds to words from a friend, stranger, or enemy. But my favourite one is the SHRINK SESSION. This can also be done before you get a feel for your character or when you find it difficult to get into your character’s head. YOU are the shrink and your character sits opposite to you. Start by taking note of body language and then start asking him or her questions. Start at the beginning or ask about what’s going on recently in his or her life. Put them in the hot seat or handle them with care…or both! And see what happens. This is a fun and creative way to get the ball of words rolling. Try it and let me know if it helps.

Then it’s just a matter of writing and getting to know your characters through your story. Because even then your characters will still surprise you. Sometimes you think you know someone…Damn those characters. It’s like they’re real people sometimes. 😉

Summaries, Save me!

25 May

Though plot synopses make me want to hide in a wardrobe so I can rock back and forth and eat cookies, I’ve learned something valuable from them. Which is that a plot synopsis is one of the best writing blue prints there is. Okay, fine, I know this is probably common knowledge but it wasn’t for me so just in case, I’m sharing. If you’re a querying writer then you’ve come across this dreaded monster and if you’re anything like me then the act of writing a synopsis has probably made you cry. Also, it has probably been written AFTER you’ve finished your story. It all depends on what kind of writer you are, but since I’m a wing-it kind of writer, it never occurred to me to write a synopsis beforehand, even if some story aspects will change.

The best synopses are the ones that are only one page long. Two, tops. I always was relieved when I found an agent that asked for longer synopses because wow, is it hard to compress the main plot of your novel and squish it on that one page. But it is also the best way to figure out what the most important points in your novel are and therefore what you have to write towards. Writing a short summary has the same effect as a brainstorming session, especially if you set a timer and try to do it in a short time. Usually I just write and see where I go, or I daydream to see what the best way to go is. The summary forces you to do that without your brain noticing every shiny thing in your vicinity after you’ve only been daydreaming for three minutes.

So, to keep it short and simple: Write your synopsis before you write your story, even if you’re not a plotter. If you want to try your hand at plotting (which I’ll be trying now) you can use the synopsis to fill in the gaps between. I’ve planned out thirty chapters and two scenes per chapter, so I can fill in what will happen during those moments. Plotting doesn’t have to mean there is no room for creativity, it just means you’ve mapped out the way to reach your destination. Which doesn’t exclude unexpected detours. It also means you can think about any possible plot holes and avoid them. And it also allows you to focus on moments that are crucial to your story and therefore could possibly save you during editing. Write that synopsis and focus on the most important points belonging to the main plot. Have someone else read it and see if it gets them as excited as you. Who needs muses when you’ve got summaries?

 

The good thing about a bit of plotting is the use of notebooks and post-its!

The good thing about a bit of plotting is the use of notebooks and post-its!

 

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