Friday, July 13, 2007

VW#4: Plotting With Purpose

Running behind today, folks, sorry -- the winners of VW#2 giveaway are:

Kasey Mackenzie

fionaphoenix

Winners, please send your full name and ship-to address to LynnViehl@aol.com, and I'll get these goodies out to you. On to the workshop:

I. Reasoning Plot

I never plot without a purpose in mind, even when I'm just writing something for the blog. You may remember that back when I first introduced John and Marcia, my novel crash test dummies, I told everyone up front that John, our hero, was half-demon. Considering how honest I was from the very beginning, the fact that John also turned out to be the diamond-thieving demon shouldn't have been a surprise, but it was.

Nothing happens in a story without a reason, even if that reason is known only by the writer. This is why purpose plays such a huge part in plotting a novel.

II. The Purpose Driven Plot

You want to tell a love story, but you're not sure why. Maybe because romance pays so well, or you don't feel like writing a mystery. You pick an ex-Navy Seal as your protagonist because, well, it worked for Linda Howard and Suzanne Brockman, didn't it? Ex-Navy dude shall rescue a virginal librarian from a Fate Worse than an IRS audit -- not sure what that is, exactly, or why, but those are bridges you'll cross when you get to them. So these two will wander around the story and a lot of stuff you'll think up later will happen, until they fall in love, get married and live happily ever after, because . . . that's what happens.

This is typical plotting without purpose. You have a plot, sort of, and an idea of what to write, kinda. Essentially you're going to make it up as you go along. And while a few pansters out there are fabulous spontaneous plotters, and don't have to worry about planning anything in advance, most of you are likely going to stall at some point and/or have to rewrite significant portions of this story.

Let's try this again, shall we?

You choose to tell a love story because you have something to say about men, women, love and relationships. How love redeems us is the theme you choose to bring to the story. You select an ex-Navy Seal not only because he's single, physically fit, trained to take out terrorists and a hunk, but because he's emotionally damaged by his experiences and finds life after the military empty and lonely. His quest, whether he realizes it or not, is to redeem himself.

Redemption comes in the form of a timid librarian who has buried her life in her books. She is in her own way as damaged by her solitary life experiences as the ex-Seal is by his. They bump into each other repeatedly as the ex-Seal hides out in the library to avoid his well-meaning aunt, who wants to marry him off to any cute single woman she can get him to blind date.

Meanwhile, a rare book collector, who has become obsessed with obtaining a book he needs to complete a set he's been slowly acquiring all his life, discovers that the librarian owns the only known copy of it in the world. At first he approaches her about purchasing the book. As the book is the only thing the librarian has left that belonged to her anti-war protester father, who wrote odd numeric codes in the margins, she refuses to sell it. This refusal unbalances the collector, who proceeds to stalk, harass, burglarize and finally attempts to murder the librarian.

I could outline the rest of the novel, but by now I'm sure you get the idea. This is a plot with purpose: one that clearly maps out the story so you know not only what you're writing, but why.

III. Purpose Points

Every choice I made in outlining the example novel had some point of purpose, as follows:

A. Main conflict: whatever you choose to make your main conflict, it has to have a purpose and a catalyst, or something to set events into motion that will eventually resolve the conflict.

In the case of my example story, the main conflict centers on the romantic relationship between the ex-Seal and the librarian. Both are going to have to work together and face their past in order to move on with their lives and have a chance at a happier future (which in my book may or may not involve marriage.) This conflict is symbolized by the rare book the librarian owns -- the book in some way symbolically embodies all of the characters' pasts. The conflict catalyst is the attempt by the book collector to purchase it: As the book is the only thing the librarian has left that belonged to her anti-war protester father, who wrote odd numeric codes in the margins, she refuses to sell it.

B. Characters: Character choices shouldn't be accidental. I prefer main characters who oppose each other in a definitive way while still sharing some common underlying principal; your mileage may vary.

My obvious choice of heroine for an ex-Seal was the daughter of an anti-war protester. If the main conflict revolves around a book, the story needs someone who wants that book, hence the rare book collector. The ex-Seal's aunt can provide a little comic relief as she tries to fix up her nephew with the ladies in town, and she is also the reason the ex-Seal and the librarian initially come together.

C. Subplots: The ex-Seal's past comes into play as he becomes the librarian's voluntary bodyguard; I'd definitely work a subplot where at some time during his military career he failed to save an innocent. This subplot can tie in with the main conflict, or merely provide a little extra motivation for the ex-Seal.

The same goes for the librarian's relationship with her anti-war protester father -- secretly she resented the time her father spent protesting the war rather than being a better parent to her. Her father's beliefs resulted in her being made into the town outcast, too.

The aunt could have once been in love with the librarian's father, and only ended the relationship because he began protesting the war -- justifying her resentment of the librarian.

As for the rare book collector who snaps when the librarian refuses to sell him her book, I'd probably go for a backstory subplot of what sets him on this greedy, self-destructive path. Obsessional collectors are usually loners who try to make up for childhood deprivations and enforce a sense of superiority to others by collecting rarities. Perhaps our collector grew up poor in wretched circumstances, and had to do terrible things to fight his way out. Despite his wealth, the collector has never felt adequate as a person. His rare book collection makes him important in the way nothing else can. To fail to complete that collection makes it worthless in his eyes, therefore he must have that book.

D. Setting Small town U.S.A. would be the setting I'd pick for this novel, as you have more shared history in that sort of setting versus a big anonymous city, but an old ethnic neighborhood in a city would work as well. The setting you choose should be purposeful and logical, not only to your characters, but to the other elements of the plot. Small towns have smaller police forces, which would not have the manpower to guard the librarian (compelling the ex-Seal to watch over her himself.) A rare book collector might be a long-time resident, or an outsider who has come to town not to become a resident, but to pretend to while he stalks the librarian.

IV. A Readable Feast

Let's move out of the writing space and into the kitchen for a minute.

When I put together a meal, I consider my family's likes and dislikes with food. I read recipes to find one I think they'll enjoy most, prepare and measure my ingredients, set out what tools I need and take the time to figure out when to start cooking every component of the meal, so that it will all be ready at the same time to serve. I also look at my food choices to see that they complement each other. I may taste what I cook as I'm preparing it, to see if it needs a little more spice or something. But I know that if I follow the recipe, use the ingredients it calls for, and time it correctly, I'll end up serving an enjoyable meal.

I could go into the kitchen and just throw whatever appeals to me into a pot and see what happens. The family may or may not like it, but this is all about being a creative cook, not what they like or will eat. I'm not a naturally gifted spontaneous cook, though, and I'll probably end up throwing out two or three batches of glop before I find the right combination of stuff to make an edible dish. Certainly it's more creative and fun to mess around in the kitchen like that, but I'd rather not waste my time or supplies, or risk making something that will make my family go euwwww.

I know that plotting is a lot of work, and for some people it sucks all the fun out of writing. The main difference between a plotter and the pantser, however, is that expectation of fun.

From the way it's been described to me, the pantser is all about the joy of spontaneity and puttering around the novel kitchen. Writing is art, and you can't plan great art -- you have to be free to create and explore and toss out five or six different batches of novel glop before you hit on the right story. Personally I may not be able to do that, but I do get it.

I know some of you pantsers out there are marvelous spontaneous plotters, too, so don't consider this workshop a criticism of your methods or reasoning. You do get the job done; I just can't figure out how.

I have fun when I write, but I don't write to have fun. I think the main reason to cook is to feed people, and I apply the same philosophy to writing. I write books for people to read them. For me this means turning out a quality product on schedule, without wasting time or resources. Because I know that the hungry family in the next room wants to be fed, and if a satisfying meal doesn't hit the table on a regular basis. they're going to order out for pizza.

For a chance to win one of today's two Left Behind and Loving It goodie bags, in comments to this post ask a question or share your view on plotting, or just throw your name into the hat by midnight EST on Saturday, July 14, 2007. I will draw two names at random from everyone who participates and send the winners a tote filled with a signed copy of my novel Bio Rescue (paperback), as well as unsigned copies of The Spooky Art ~ Some Thoughts on Writing by Norman Mailer (hardcover), Don't Look Down by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer (paperback), After Dark by Donna Hill (paperback), Emperor ~ The Gods of War by Conn Iggulden (paperback), When I Fall in Love by Lynn Kurland (paperback), Tied to the Tracks by Rosina Lippi (trade paperback), Wabi Sabi for Writers by Richard R. Powell (trade paperback), the August 2007 issue of Psychology Today magazine (this one has a great article on rebounding from rejection)and some surprises. This giveaway is open to everyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Other sources on plotting:

Plotting the Novel: Otherwise Known as The Real Reason Writers are Neurotic by Lisa Gardner (.pdf file format)

Randy Ingermanson's How to Write a Novel using the Snowflake Method

Holly Lisle's two workshops on plot: Beyond the Basics: Creating the Professional Plot Outline and Notecarding: Plotting Under Pressure

Writing a Novel - Plotting by Joanne Reid

Other virtual workshops now in progress:

Joely Sue Burkhart's Do You Know the Secret?

Gabriele Campbell's How to Make a Battle Come Alive on the Page, Part 1 and Part 2

LJ Cohen's Organize your Novel with a WIKI

Rosina Lippi's Workshop Day 1: The Story Machine, Workshop Day 2: Ask Your Characters, and Workshop Day 3: Rev Your Engines

Jordan Summers talks about writing outside the traditional boundaries of romance, and her own trials and triumphs as an example of what roads are available and how to avoid some of the potholes

Shiloh Walker's Heat with Heart Day 1, finding that missing emotion, Exploring that Backstory (where she briefly grills me)

62 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Lynn! I'm a partial plotter. :) I loosely outline the larger story arc, then put in specific 'waypoints' for the story. Do some work on character motivation and backstory, then start writing. I usually more fully outline 2-3 chapters ahead, then fill in more details for the next 2-3 chapters when I get near the end of what I've outlined.

    That's seen me through 3 completed novels, and halfway through number 4. The only problem I have is my personal muddle with middles.

    So I think I will try to more fully plan for this current project and see if I can't push my way past the middle without a panic attack.

    :)

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  2. Great post and perfect timing for me as I plan my next novel. Throwing my name into the hat as well!

    Thanks,
    Heather

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  3. hi, don't know if I'm a pantser or a plotter. I've tried both. I think I'm alittle of both. I know what I want to happen later but I see what I will write to get me there. I always have an scene in my head for the ending. But I have yet to finish anything so I don't really know what work for me. Still learning to cook i guess. lol
    ~ annie

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  4. That didn't sound like a bad plot! I read that book about the Seal and librarian. Aren't you worried that someone will steal that? Ideas aren't copyrighted. I'm not saying I would, I've got enough characters in my head already!

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  5. I've run the gamut from no plotting to detailed outlining. I find what words best is extensive prestory notes and a scene list-style outline. That way I know what has to happen so I can see where I'm going, but not how it'll happen, so I'm still surprised and have fun. That's what seems to be working for me, but I'm still learning. :)

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  6. I'm almost a complete panster. I have a character, maybe two, and either a critical scene or a starting situation. I've tried plotting a time or two (including the Snowflake Method) and it doesn't seem to work for me at all. It's not that it's not as much fun, it feels like I just blasted my muse with a shotgun; she drops dead.

    Running by the seat of the pants though, seems to work for me. I've only had one real stillbirth, and it died within the first two chapters - not a massive investment of time. Sort of like my husband, who never cooks by recipe, yet has only had two real flubs in the last decade.

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  7. very interesting post. Throwing my name in the hat.

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  8. I'm a partial plotter too. I outline th salient points but let the characters fill in the sub-plots as we go. This occasionally forces me to re-write earlier chapters, but not often. I also find myself writing the subplots and opening files for later chapters to dump them in.

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  9. Bridget Medora2:33 PM

    Great post! Thank you again. Thank you for this whole series actually! Tossing my name in the hat too. =)

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  10. Great post. Throwing my name in the hat.

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  11. Throwing my name into the hat as my plotting has all come together and my story is really working =D

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  12. Thank you for the article. Please throw my name in the hat.

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  13. Brilliant post! I got green envy bumps all over. You make it look so easy!!!

    Anyway, this may be different and it may be the same, but I just thought I'd ask: you write Sci-fi as well, and since I write fantasy a lot and they're both about big grand adventures and such, how do you keep from getting a soggy middle? I've tried three times within the last two years, and I just can't make it through the middle, I always sink.

    Any advice? I could really use it.

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  14. What a great post!

    I tend to plot without a larger purpose and hope for the best. This usually works out okay, but not always.

    For me, writing has to be about the pleasure of creating. I already have a full-time job and have no interest in making writing feel like work. But some of your suggestions would probably make my fun even more so, since I have a tendency to meander in my plots.

    Thanks for the fantastic ideas!

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  15. I tried for TEN YEARS to "just write" my novel. Never got to the end, put it down at least 4 times, but kept hearing that "real" writers start at the first word and end at the last and don't plan or plot.

    The 4th time I picked it back up, I threw out the whole "real writers" comment/idea and decided to try to figure out exactly how I needed to write to get the novel done. Four months later, I had a finished rough draft after carefully building and plotting. I've since drafted several other novels. Now I just need to figure out the revising process. ;)

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  16. I'm a plotter which when my characters decided to surprise me with a twist really threw a wrench in the works. I have trouble just writing as a pantser. Throwing my name in the hat.

    Thanks, Amanda F.

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  17. I suspect I don't plot very well. Mostly I start writing with some idea of where I'm going, and pootle along until I get there. I've found that if I try to nail myself down to an outline, I can't write at all. But I'm slowly trying to make the transition to planning, as pootling involves lots of false turnings. Sort of sneaking planning up on myself, as it were.

    Halfway through the big fat whatever :). That book is HEAVY!

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  18. Great post! I'm a two phase writer. Pantser by nature, I usually start with a kernel of an idea, pants my way through the first 60 pages or so and then take the time out to plot from there. The pantsing part is how I get to know my characters and my location. If I plot from the get go I find that my people are stilted and flat. So I suppose my process is part pantsing, part organic, part plotting...

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  19. Throwing my name in the hat today.

    I've so far stayed away from Iggulden's books because it's a time I know well and he's said to have changed quite a few things. But should I find the book on my doorstep, I'll read it - who knows I may even enjoy it and get the others.

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  20. Throwing my name in the hat.

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  21. I think you must be reading my mind. I have been thinking about a plot for a new project recently and have done it much as you describe. I haven't really done much with the story because while I had some of the bigger plot points, I needed...more. I started thinking about the backstory of who these people are and voila - I had more of the plot right in my hand.

    Amazing how that works :)

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  22. Thanks for more great food for thought!

    I recognize a few of my early manuscripts as "plots without purpose". Writing those stories was like pulling teeth. I'd think, "OK, now I have to make this happen," and then try to twist and turn the action and characters to get to that point.

    Seems to me, a plot with purpose is way more fun for both the reader, and the writer.

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  23. Anonymous5:21 PM

    Another great post!

    Throwing my name into the hat!

    Thanks,

    Terri W.

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  24. Throwing my name into the hat.

    Oh, and in the kitchen, I can go either way--planned or spontaneous, and either way create a tasty meal. Not so sure about my ability to do that with a novel, though.

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  25. Fantastic post!!
    I've always thought of myself as a panster, but what you have up there is basically what I always do in my head before starting a story. Get the characters, and build from there. Wonderful! Now I don't feel so terrified of trying to write it down and maybe even go a bit more indepth in my planning.

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  26. Name, meet hat! :)

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  27. Not a writer, but I find these posts interesting nontheless! This week has a lot of fascinating posts. Please throw my name into the hat.

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  28. I really enjoyed this post, and I really needed it. I'm editing a novel now, and it needs a serious overhaul. Of course, that's because I did zero plotting at the beginning. Thanks!!

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  29. Another awesome article.
    I have nothing to say, but throwing my hat in!

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  30. The creative cook analogy hit home with me. I tend to plot like that and end up with a confused mess. Thanks for helping me see what I'm doing wrong. And I'm tossing my name in the hat.
    Lavern

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  31. One of my favorite plotting things to do is from you: what's the worst thing I can do to this character. I always think of Finding Nemo and how Marlin had to face his greatest fear throughout the movie. Thanks for a great post!
    P.S. Don't enter me for the prizes--I've won enough loot from you. :-)

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  32. I think I'm a half-pantser, half-plotter. I think of a beginning, I think of an end, and I plot two chapters ahead while I'm writing. It seems to work okay for me.

    The kitchen analogy was great, by the way- it really helped me see what the difference was and why some people enjoy plotting while some don't. It's all about what feels like the best thing to do, isn't it?

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  33. I've been a "pantser" for a long time, but I'm trying to change that. It seems if I'm to deal with deadlines, I have to get more structured. On the other hand, maybe it's the effort at structure that's had me locked up for so long...Nah. That's got to be all in my head.

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  34. Great stuff on plotting! My favorite plot resource is Plot by Ansen Dibell. I love that book. I also borrow from classic plots (Beauty and the Beast, etc.) The "what's the worst thing I can do to this person" question is a good one as JSB mentioned.

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  35. Interesting. I've always made meals by chucking in various things from around the kitchen. Even if I'm making a sauce, or chai, or some specific, it's a bit of this & some more of that & leave them for some amount of time.

    Whenever I've tried to follow a recipe, the results are, well they're edible, mostly.

    Writing is the same -- throw in a few characters & some vague ideas of situations they have to get into, shake well. Whenever I get stuck or the story goes flat, it's because I'm trying to make the character do what I think they should be doing. If I back off, and follow the trail "they" want to go down, the story picks up again.

    It's not a random process though. My basic cooking process is to start with a base e.g. rice; add the main component; add stuff for bulk, texture, colour; add seasonings.

    So with writing.

    I won't start until I have an end. It might not be THE end, but it's AN end. I need to know my main character well enough that I'm interested in the story they have to tell. This usually means they've offered up some interesting bits of scenes and some backstory. And I need to have some idea of the setting (where/when/what).

    So there's the destination and some points to be reached along the way. The points might end up being minor incidents in the story, or eliminated in the rewrite, but they're the guiding beacons. As I'm writing, I like to torment my characters. How many disagreements can I get them into? How many nasty situations? (They seem to keep surrounding themselves with nice, supportive other characters though. I need to work on that.) Escalate the tension, up the stakes, show they can fail, and always remember the character's goal!

    I think it's the last bit that makes it hard for me to outline. As I'm writing, a minor character will offer a chance to create new conflicts, or a random bit of world building will provide a way to complicate the main character's life, or a bit of dialogue will take them off into unexplored territory. It's when I follow these leads that the story is the most interesting, because it comes from the character/situation.

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  36. I think I'm developing into a plotter. Kind of like learning to ride a bike, when I was first learning I would wobble all over the street trying to go in a straight line (including a painful face plant in the pavement), but once I got the hang of it I could ride in a straight line, as quickly or as slowly as I wanted.
    You've given me a lot to think about. Thanks

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  37. I'd like to throw my name in the hat, please.

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  38. Name. Hat. You know the drill. Too busy plotting for further comment.

    DiDi

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  39. I seem to be a strange combinations of pantser and plotter. I write a handful of chapters (not necessarily from the beginning or in any order), get a feel from the story and the characters, then I sit down and do some plotting about where I think it needs to go. By the time I doing any plotting I usually have a general idea of the beginning and where the characters will end up, plus a few key points along the way, but I need to plot from point to point. It's like I'm drawing myself a map to get somewhere, but if anything shiny catches my eye along the way I'll stop to investigate.

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  40. Throwing my name in!

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  41. Hmm, while I'm an instinctive cook (when I cook) and my family largely hates what I do cause I'm a "reformed" vegetarian, when I write, I plot.

    I don't work from theme as you did in your example because I often don't realize the theme until the story is laid out for me. But I've realized that my outline is in many ways like the first draft of a pantser. It can be up to 15k (the largest so far I believe) and contains little snippets of the story but in a form where I can rearrange elements and ensure that each character is used to his or her fullest. The sort of intertwining subplots for example are often what I discover through the outline when I ask questions like, "How does she get here?"

    Anyway, interesting article. It obviously got me thinking :).

    Thanks,
    Margaret

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  42. Oh my, I am such a pantser and I hate every minute of it. I would love to be a plotter. I am one of those that writes papers without the outline, I could never figure it out or its purpose.

    I love the way you describe the plot and subplots. I have read so many books trying to get it. And you made me see it in a few paragraphs. Wow!

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  43. Anonymous3:44 AM

    Wow...awesome post. Somebody should forward a copy to LKH, a panster in serious need of a plot (that isn't upstaged by a subplot). Directional plot and emotional connection are probably the two most important elements for me as a reader. -dl

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  44. Great post! The plotting any story is so important. Please throw my name into the hat and thanks.

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  45. Adele Dawn4:12 AM

    Just came by to check out the Workshop and would like to be tossed in the hat.

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  46. I'd say I was a converted pantster. I don't do detailed plots, but I DO plot a little. A very little, but it is plotting of sorts (a shoe box full of index cards and an old Sasco calender covered in coloured post-it notes). Occasionally, I lose the plot.... literally. I put the box to one side and it disappears into the morass of crap that is my study...

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  47. Fantastic workshop Lynn. Thanks so much.

    I usually see the majority of my stories in my head like a movie.

    There may be areas which are ot as clear as others. And it is for these areas I will plot.

    I've also noticed many of my stories will come out of the worldbuilding I do.

    Does anyone else have that experience?

    I'm throwing my hat in.

    Siana

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  48. I've never been good at coming up with a plot. I think it comes of having one of the most boring lives ever. The problem is, even when life gets "exciting", the plots I get are much too autobiographical. No one wants to read about a semi-defrocked pastor.

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  49. << laubaineworld said...
    I've also noticed many of my stories will come out of the worldbuilding I do.

    Does anyone else have that? >>

    Many of my subplots do. For me a main character shows up with some odd and dangerous situation going on.

    Thanks for the great workshop! I wish I had more time to interact.

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  50. Great workshop! Congrats to the winners! Would like to toss myname in the hat.

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  51. Tamith12:57 PM

    Loving the workshops, and throwing my name in the hat.

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  52. Thanks for the post! Throwing my hat in...

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  53. Adding my name to the hat. :) I think everyone said everything that could be said by me.

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  54. I'll throw my name in, too. I'm working on plotting my third novel, so the workshop has come along at a good time - thanks!

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  55. I have to disagree with you on plotters and pantsers. I write primarily for my own enjoyment, but I'm definitely a plotter. For me, having outlines to work from makes me enjoy the story more, because I know where I'm going. If I don't have that map to lead me, I get frustrated and lost.

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  56. Laura Elliott wrote: That didn't sound like a bad plot! I read that book about the Seal and librarian. Aren't you worried that someone will steal that? Ideas aren't copyrighted. I'm not saying I would, I've got enough characters in my head already!

    As you said, ideas can't be copyrighted. I don't worry about other people ripping off my ideas. It's already happened, and there's really nothing you can do about it, except feel sorry for them. Stealing from another writer is beyond pathetic.

    Violate my copyright, however, and you'll be talking to my publisher's attorneys.

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  57. perpetualbeginner wrote: I've tried plotting a time or two (including the Snowflake Method) and it doesn't seem to work for me at all. It's not that it's not as much fun, it feels like I just blasted my muse with a shotgun; she drops dead.

    You may be one of those marvelous spontaneous plotters for whom everything works out fine in the end.

    The only problem with being a pantser is when you get to the professional level and have to start pitching books on a regular basis before you write them. No editor is going to make an offer for a book about which the writer says "I have no idea, but it'll be really cool, I promise." You may end up having to write every book before you try to sell it.

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  58. Jason wrote: Anyway, this may be different and it may be the same, but I just thought I'd ask: you write Sci-fi as well, and since I write fantasy a lot and they're both about big grand adventures and such, how do you keep from getting a soggy middle?

    Subplots that are resolved at different times during the story help me avoid that problem. So do timelines -- I always make sure I have plenty of action happening in the middle of the book. Then, if all else fails, I throw in an unexpected but resolvable crisis. Blowing up stuff usually works well. :)

    I've tried three times within the last two years, and I just can't make it through the middle, I always sink.

    This is where plotting in advance helps -- you can plan for that stretch of story where nothing much can happen with the main conflict. One writer told me he writes the middle of the book first, just to make sure he doesn't end up with a dead zone.

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  59. Buffysquirrel wrote: Halfway through the big fat whatever :). That book is HEAVY!

    Lol. After I gave up on it, I used my copy as a doorstop in the laundry room until I found someone to take it off my hands. Worked great. :)

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  60. revalkorn wrote: I've never been good at coming up with a plot. I think it comes of having one of the most boring lives ever.

    Wait a minute, I thought I held that title. :)

    The problem is, even when life gets "exciting", the plots I get are much too autobiographical. No one wants to read about a semi-defrocked pastor.

    When I was younger, I used to write what seemed like the same story over and over. I couldn't figure out why they all sounded interchangeable until I tried rewriting Shakespeare, and for the first time was not able to put myself in the protagonist's shoes. I think a lot of us do start out writing veiled autobiographies, and it's not until we deliberately choose a character who does not resemble us in the least nor shares our opinions and habits that we can break out of that mirror trap.

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  61. Zoe wrote: I have to disagree with you on plotters and pantsers. I write primarily for my own enjoyment, but I'm definitely a plotter. For me, having outlines to work from makes me enjoy the story more, because I know where I'm going. If I don't have that map to lead me, I get frustrated and lost.

    I don't think plotters are universally exempt from writing for their own enjoyment, so no disagreement there. About a third of what I write is not for publication, but I plot out everything whether it's going to be in print or not.

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