Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Fricassee

Happy June!

Last Friday, you had some good things to say about the right motivations for killing off a character.

Here's a great blog post on the subject by our own Petre Pan.  In fact, I've kept the tab open all week so that her words of wisdom would be available to me as I write.  (I'm still in the thick of it, making changes that will potentially lead to Character B's death instead of Character A.  What odd lives we lead, right?)

Thank you, Petre dear!

So it's been a while since we've chatted about how to PLAN a novel.  (As in, are you a plotter or a pantser?)  You long-timers have watched me morph from an unabashed pantser to an I-will-never-write-a-novel-without-a-beat-sheet-again diehard.  What is your approach?

Mind you, I'm not looking for "there is a right way to do this".  I expounded on that a few years ago.  It's important to find a writing process that works for us.  And I believe it's also important to be open to change and growth, instead of digging our heels in and whining, "No! I'm doing it THIS way!"

Share your process!  This is how we learn from each other.  And if you're in a stuck place in your current WIP, maybe a glimpse of the way someone else plots will inspire you and lead to un-stuckness.

As always, looking forward to your comments!


  1. My approach to writing changed after reading STORY ENGINEERING by Larry Brooks. I like beat sheets, too, but Brooks helped me understand what goes where--a huge help.
    Have a great weekend, Authoress!

  2. Mostly I'm a plotter. A plotter who's prone to wandering. I know where I want the story to go (yet not quite how it ends) and I generally stick to it. I find if I'm not careful, though, I'll wander off the plotted path. Sometimes with excellent results and sometimes I end up hitting the delete key.

  3. The scars from the novel-that-wouldn't-end are so painful that I seek structure with Blake Snyder's Save the Cat beat sheet, Aristotle's Eight-Point Arc, Larry Brook's Story Engineering worksheet (thank you, Jami Gold, for posting the spreadsheets with embedded calculators,) Suzanne Johnson's Quilting 101 plotting method, and Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. Follow up those basics with Debra Dixon's GMC--for the book and each scene--et voila! A beginning, middle, and end.

  4. WHOA Thanks so much for linking to my post!

    I'm in the same boat as you, planning-wise. Used-to-pants, now I very much need a beat sheet.

  5. I plot out a lot of the book but write almost nothing down (I usually write a query but that's it)and I write the first chapter or two while I'm planning it out in my head because it helps me get to know the world and characters organically. Then it gets in line behind the others with hopes I MIGHT get to it one day (I've got a long list of planned novels at this point)

  6. I plot as I go. Lol! I used to outline all the way through, but I have a hard time ignoring my outline when it changes. I plot by hand so it gets pretty crowded on my notebook. I can't abandon it completely because it keeps me on track, so I write down all the major plot points and the ending, and then pants the rest. ^_^ This way I stay on track and stay focused without getting frustrated by an ever changing outline.

  7. I'm also a recovering pantser and fan of the beat sheet. I can only go about up to the midpoint with any degree of specificity, but the rest of the plot sparks as I write.

    The other tool I'm learning to appreciate is also from Save the Cat -- choosing a genre from one of Blake Snyder's ten basics. They aren't the usual, "fantasy," "thriller," "romance," etc., but different forms of story. When I figured out that the idea I'd been nursing for a year was a Golden Fleece, it helped me know where in the story to put all the bits and bobs of plot and worldbuilding I'd been collecting.

  8. For my first novel, I was learning about plotting as I went, so it developed as I wrote each page. For my second novel, the idea struck me like lightening and I wrote a basic outline, then would rewrite the outline as I progressed and things evolved. I found this really helpful since it gave me a place to write toward instead of staring at a blank screen and wondering what I could make happen next. As I begin thinking about starting something new, I try to identify my main character's worst fear and what he/she wants most. Then, I try to identify a situation that would challenge the fear and desire. It gets things rolling at the very least, even if it feels somewhat formulaic at the beginning.

  9. I plot before I write. Always. Mainly because I tend to change parts of my story when I realize it's not working. So I find it easier to get the framework done, fix any glaring errors in it, and then write rather than writing only to realize something isn't working and go back to change what I've already put down.

  10. As with others here, I think I'm both a plotter and a pantser. It helps me to have an outline - or beat sheet - but I also enjoy letting the story evolve as I write it.