Monday, July 28, 2008

VW#1: Power Plotting

I. Power to the Story

I've seen story plot defined by writers in a dozen different ways. Some consider plot to be an orderly plan for writing a novel; others see it as an intricate and sometimes confusing tangle of characters, settings, conflicts, running threads, revelations and resolutions. There are pro-plotters out there who won't write a story without first plotting it, anti-plotters who see plotting as beneath them and sniff over anyone who does it, and plot-phobics who avoid plotting like it's got eight legs, poison-dripping fangs and wants to eat their muse alive.

Today I'd like you all to think about plot a little differently. Imagine it working for your story as electrical service does for your home.

II. Why Wire a Story?

If I were to show you how your house is wired for power with individual circuits, it would probably look something like this:

How Your Home is Wired

Confused? Don't worry, so am I. Even color-coded and simplified, all those individual circuits bouncing around the rooms make it look like someone just blew up a bubblegum machine in there. Writers face the same sort of dilemma when they try to write a story without having a plan of some sort -- during the creative process, they have so many scenes, characters, storylines and ideas bouncing around inside them that confusion is inevitable.

What we need to do is go back and begin where everything starts; at the source: the main electrical panel for the house. This is where it all begins:

The source of your household power

The same is true with plotting a novel. We're going to plot out a story as if it were an electrical panel that provides main power, channels it to the appropriate places, diverts and uses it in various outlets in order to make the entire story system work.

III. The Main

In an electrical panel, the main is where it all begins; the primary source of power for an electrical service. It's why the power company bills you each month, and what they shut off if you don't pay the bill.

In your story, the main is your main conflict. It's the Why? of the story, the reason all of the characters in all of the places do and say all of the things that occur in the story. It's the source on which everything else depends, and it has to be powerful enough to run everything else depending on it.

Choosing your main conflict may be the most important decision you make for a story. A weak main won't carry the entire story; inevitably it collapses under the strain. An unfocused or unstable main will result in story lag and confusion. The main may not be the first decision you make when writing, but it demands you make it a strong, focused statement when you do:

A Russian captain defects with a prototype silent-running missile submarine.

A secret about Jesus Christ is hidden in a Da Vinci painting.

A misfit girl falls in love with a vampire boy at her new high school.


Remember the main in main conflict. If you don't supply enough power to a characterization, or a setting, or an exchange of dialogue, you may lose that part of your story. If your main conflict doesn't have enough power, no matter how great you've wired everything else, you lose the entire story.

IV. Setting -- the Bus Bars

In an electrical panel, the bus bars channel the main power to the breakers. They are the foundation to which everything that needs the main power is attached.

The bus bars of your story are your settings. The Where? of the story may not seem as important as the main, but think of that Russian sub captain trying to defect in the middle of South Dakota, or trying to find the secret of the famous Da Vinci painting in Antarctica, or the misfit and the vampire trying to fall in love in the Sahara desert. Choosing where your story happens channels the power from the main to the appropriate place.

In this part of your diagram, you don't have to get too detailed. Pick the general locations where your story happens according to the scope of the story -- if you're going continent-hopping, select the cities and countries. If you plan to stick in one city or town, use general locations within the city limits. Once you have your locations picked, you know where your story plays out and can do your research accordingly.

Again, this might not be the first decision you make for the story, but it's also one you need to think out carefully. You may love the idea of writing a story set in the middle of Antarctica, but if you've never been there you're looking at extensive research (unless you like penguins, can make the voyage and find a scientific expedition willing to let you tag along so you can get the authenticity via personal experience.)

V. Characters: The Breakers

Breakers are the places in the electrical panel where the power supplied by the main and channeled by the bus bars start to go in different directions. Breakers split the power up to different circuits (all those bouncy lines up there in the household wiring diagram) and provide power to the different outlets.

In your story, your characters take the power from the main conflict through the settings and basically run with it through the story. How many characters you put in your story can affect how well the power of your main conflict is distributed; too few and you don't use your power effectively; too many can cause an overload situation.

Just as a breaker should divert a portion of power to where it's needed, a character needs to do something with the main conflict that serves the story. Look at each of your characters and what purpose they serve in the story. If you've got a lot of characters feeding off your main but they're not doing anything but creating a drain on the system, put them to work or get rid of them.

VI. Main Events: The Circuits

Circuits are the wires that run from the breakers to the outlets; the true "wiring" in "wiring diagram." They run through every part of your house, in the walls, under the floors and through the ceilings. There isn't a room under your roof that doesn't have a circuit in it.

Your story circuits are the main events that happen. You've heard me refer to using timelines for plotting, the main events are what constitute a timeline. Generally the main events follow a logical chronological order: this happens, and then this, and then this, and so on. Or, if you prefer the traditional story construct, beginning, middle, end.

Figuring out your main event circuits can put you into a snarl unless you remember a simple rule that applies to basic wiring as well: deal with one circuit at a time until you've traced it out and resolved it, then move on to the next.

VII. Scenes: Outlets

We've come to the end of the household electrical service system: the outlets. From the main, through the bus bars, divided up among the breakers and running through the circuits, the bulk of the power ends up waiting to be used at these little receptacles called outlets.

In your story, each scene is an outlet. It depends on one of your main event circuits, which was diverted to it by your character breakers, that was channeled to them by your setting bus bars, and empowered to all by your main conflict. The scene is the end of the line for your story elements, because here they all come into play to make the story work.

Scenes are where the magic does or doesn't happen. If you've wired your system properly, at this point they should write themselves. If there's a problem up the line, the scene won't work.

VIII. Hey, We're not Electricians!

I had planned to provide you all with a template for the wiring diagram, but I don't have a photoshop program working on the new monster computer yet (it refuses to take my Photo-It software and I think it ate part of my backup freeware.) Also, as everyone will have different amounts of characters, settings, events, scenes, etc. it would be hard to come up with a one-size-fits-all-stories template. But to at least give you a visual, here's a very simplified example that I made with Word.

(Added: Things are running a bit better this morning, and I was able to upload a better example over on Scribd*; I filled out this one with the plot for John & Marcia's book to demonstrate how it works. Here's a blank version you can use as a template.) *Note 9/3/10: Since Scribd.com instituted an access fee scam to charge people for downloading e-books, including those I have provided for free for the last ten years, I have removed my free library from their site, and no longer use or recommend using their service. My free reads may be read online or downloaded for free from Google Docs; go to my freebies and free reads page for the links. See my post about this scam here.

I remember the first time I looked inside an electrical panel. I was raised to believe that females were not supposed to touch anything with wires. Plus just seeing all those mysterious switches and lugs and knowing high voltage came through this thing -- who in their right mind would mess with that?

I also remember not being able to afford an electrician, and desperately phoning my dad, who talked me through changing out a fuse (this was back in the days before all these nice neat breakers they have now.) After the lights came back on, I felt like running around my neighborhood shouting Look! Look! I fixed the electric! And I'm a girl!

For those of you who want to try wiring your novel, I hope you'll give my diagram idea a test drive. And please feel free to adapt it to your particular writing style and needs.

As for whether a writer needs to plot or not, I've learned to respect writers who say they can write without plotting, because I've seen them do it and produce amazing work. But for most of us who don't have that incredible gift of spontaneous genius, plotting is useful and helpful.

Today's LB&LI giveaways are:

1) a BookWish (any book of the winner's choice which is available to order online, up to a max cost of $30.00 U.S.; I'll throw in the shipping)

2) a goodie bag which will include an unsigned hardcover copy of The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi, and unsigned paperback copies of The Hob's Bargain by Patricia Briggs, Wild Hunt by Lori Devoti, Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione, At Risk by Alison Kent, Through the Veil by Shiloh Walker, signed paperback copies of Evermore and Twilight Fall by Lynn Viehl as well as some other surprises.

If you'd like to win one of these two giveaways, comment on this workshop before midnight EST today, July 28, 2008. I will draw two names from everyone who participates and send one winner the goodie bag and grant the other a BookWish. Everyone who participates in the giveaways this week will also be automatically entered in my grand prize drawing on August 5, 2008 for a brand new AlphaSmart Neo. All LB&LI giveaways are open to anyone on the planet, even if you've won something here at PBW in the past.

Other LB&LI Workshop Links (due to different time zones, some of these will go live later in the day)

Creating Great Beginnings - the Why and How by Sherryl Clark -- If your beginning works, the rest will follow. We're going to look at why it's crucial, what is the contract with the reader, Dos and Don'ts (and why/why not), story questions vs hooks, situating the reader, and writing backwards. I'll also invite readers to send in their first 200 words for feedback.

Verbs Rule, Adjectives Drool by LJ Cohen -- a week of workshops using poetry and poetic techniques useful for novelists (tune in each day this week as LJ presents different poetic tools with examples of how to use them in your own writing.)

Gender Differences for Writers by Cheryl Corbin -- Male and female body language, speech and thinking differences.

Marketing on a Budget by Moondancer Drake -- How to make the most of marketing your book on a limited budget.

Writing Effective Description by Karen Duvall -- a week of workshops on how to write vivid description using all the senses, covering one for each day of the week.

WRITING PROCESS: Conceive, Develop, Write by Jamal W. Hankins -- An overview of my writing progress from story concept to actually writing a story.

The Voices in Your Head by Alison Kent -- When discussing "voice," where and how do character voices fit in?

Everyone has to Edit by Belinda Kroll -- Five steps to edit: putting the first draft away, being brutally honest, showing not telling, telling not showing, and focusing on those nitty gritty details.

Balancing Motherhood and Writing by Dawn Montgomery, Kim Knox, and Michelle Hasker -- How to write a 1000 words in the zen of toddler meltdowns. Motherhood is a full time job and holding a family together is only half the battle. How do you find *your* time to write without losing your mind?

Self-Editing by Emma Wayne Porter -- The things your editor secretly wishes you'd do before submitting, and how to survive Track Changes afterward. Checklists and Stupid Word Tricks included.

Not Going to Frisco Workshop by Joan Reeves aka Sling Words -- Writing Biz Reality

Astronomy for Writers: Look to the Sky
by Suelder -- What do you see when you look up? The Sun, The Stars, The Moon, Effects of the Moon (the first in a five-part workshop series on basic astronomy and how to think about it from a writer's perspective.)

Begin with a business plan by Charlene Teglia -- the first in Charlene's workshops this week on the business of the business.

100 comments:

  1. What a cool analogy! I can't wait to try it out!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am inveterate "pantser" with 50 years of experience under my belt, but come NaNo this year, I will have my wiring diagram all worked out!

    Seriously, your metaphorical approach seems much more doable to me than any I have ever read.

    I am a long time (several years) lurker, but I want my name in that hat!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like the very simplified example you made. I might actually be able to follow/use it. *grin*
    It does all make sense. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks - I really enjoyed this. It made me see the process in a new way / from a different angle: how the energy of a story flows through it instead of just how the author can drag it behind her, kicking and screaming.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very, very useful information. I'm building my own "wiring template" right away.
    Thank you, this is great.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the workshop I really enjoyed reading your analogy, very interesting.

    I'm not a plotter myself but I'm sure I can use some of what you have here in my second draft. I'm always willing to give anything a go.

    All the other workshops look interesting as well, I can see I'm going to be doing a lot of blog hopping this week.

    Thanks Again.
    Sandie

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have been struggling to find a plotting method that rings true to me. I will definitely give this one a try - being an engineer, I sure feel safe with the concepts;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wow, this was an absolutely amazing post! I have bookmarked it and will refer to it frequently, I'm sure. I am one of those who needs to have some sort of plan on how to get to the end of the story - roadmaps all the way, baby - so this looks like a great tool for me to simplify my process. Thank you so much for sharing it with us! And I just happen to have a new idea I can try it out on...hhmm, guess I know what I'll be doing today.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is a very interesting analogy, and I think your little Word-generated diagram gets the point across very handily.

    Looking forward to the rest of the workshops!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous8:17 AM

    There are some who write because they are inspired, and others who inspire when they write. You seem able to do both. Thanks again for your insight and your 'breaking down' of the writing process. As a writer, I find myself empowered by your honesty and your willingness to share. Fantastic breakdown of plot and story development.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A great analogy for plotting, because it does involve all those elements, not just events. Can't wait to see what the rest of the week holds.

    I hope the Book Wish doesn't have to be fiction. My Book Wish is "Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking" by Thomas Kida.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Barbara wrote: I hope the Book Wish doesn't have to be fiction.

    Nope, it just has to be a book of some sort (Some of my past BookWish winners have requested biographies, cook books, craft books, etc.)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hmm...never thought to look at it that way. Thanks for sharing. Will you be putting up the other template you made when you get settled with the new monster :)? Would love to get a look at it.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I don't understand this, but I just know my electrical and electronics engineer BFF is going to get this.

    (It's not you. Same BFF tried to explain to me what the main does etc once, and I didn't get it either. LOL)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nice metaphors at work.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My lightbulb moment came here: "Figuring out your main event circuits can put you into a snarl unless you remember a simple rule that applies to basic wiring as well: deal with one circuit at a time until you've traced it out and resolved it, then move on to the next."

    The unraveling and following a thread through before moving on - seems like a good way to keep yourself from tangles and snares. :D

    Also, the simplified diagram is quite cohesive to illustrate what you're doing. The workshops all look very interesting - darn moving. At least I can read them when the internet gets back up on Saturday. (I'm going to try to find a computer on the moving days just to peek and enter the contests, LOL)

    Thanks for doing this again, PBW!

    ReplyDelete
  17. That is very interesting, and unique!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is intriguing - I've always been an outliner, but then I'd find that my story changed as the writing went on, and I'd end up changing the outline when I was done, not before. I think I'll try wiring my next novel instead!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ohh--I like your metaphor, Lynn! It's elegant. Methinks I will play with it for the new WIP that's tickling my brain.

    And :waves: to suelder! Cool idea for your workshop!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm a plotter. For short stories I can pants it, but for novels it helps to have an idea of what needs to happen.

    I like the diagram you did with Word. I understand it and it may make things easier...

    Some "scenes" I plot end up being more like general consepts and really take several scenes to flesh out.

    ReplyDelete
  21. A great analogy. I'll definitely give it a try this November when I give Nano a try. Maybe I'll be able to wire my story so I can actually run the coffee pot and the microwave at the same time (the same, alas, can not be said for the dayjob's breakroom). :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is great. And comes just in time as I try to plot another idea I hope won't deflate on me.

    How do subplots factor into the diagram? Lately I've had some issues with adding length to my novels and figured adding some subplots would work for that. Do you have any advice for weaving subplots into a story?

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think this is a cool analogy and I realize now I need to upgrade some of the "outlets" in my WIP.

    ReplyDelete
  24. It's an interesting concept. Kind of similar to the metaphor I use when explaining the differences between showing and telling by using a television.

    I'll have to keep this in mind.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Beautiful analogy!
    That actually might work wonders for me. I am such a right-brain writer, my writing is out of order and all over the place. I HAVE to have some kind of a plan/outline/plot to follow or there is chaos and it's not pretty!

    This actually gives me a visual, and my right brain loves that!

    Thank you for sharing it!

    ReplyDelete
  26. I like your plotting ideas! I'm not a strict plotter, but I do a general outline that changes and shifts slightly as I write. Will give your ideas some thought though, and see if I can incorporate some of them into my weird way of writing. ;-) Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm a pantser trying to make plotting work for me. Thanks much for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm not really a formal plotter. I have to dive right in and don't do much planning until I'm in deep enough to be committed. Then comes the chaotic scribblings that equal out to be my version of plotting. But maybe someday I'll get organized enough to try your diagram.

    DiDi

    ReplyDelete
  29. I like the analogy :) Thanks for entertaining those of us not at RWA nationals!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Wow!

    I'm a reader not a writer, and after reading that I know I'll never be a writer, which is cool.

    The anology by the way is great.

    ReplyDelete
  31. That's a great analogy. Thanks for the examples and now I'm off to ponder if I have a storyline I might need to cut because it drains my main story.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Not only is this one of the most functional plotting explanations I've ever read, but also it helped me find the humor in my home's current current problem. (If a am reading the diagram correctly, something is amiss in "Settings" right about "C.")

    Perhaps I'll adjust my diagram to include a generator. . .

    P. S.
    Thanks to all the other Workshop Directors!

    ReplyDelete
  33. Dawn wrote: Will you be putting up the other template you made when you get settled with the new monster :)? Would love to get a look at it.

    I was able to coax the monster into spitting out a more polished version of the diagram that I made on Word, so I put that up over on Scribd here and filled it out with J&M's story as an example. I'm working on a blank version right now, and will upload that shortly.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm sure using it now that I'm starting with a new idea. It came just in time! I was about to start using writing software, but some of them leave my head spinning. This way is simpler, but sounds pretty effective. And I'm also checking the other workshops, and some of them also seem fantastic! Thanks for this opportunity. I'm running to share the links with my group of writing friends.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Rob wrote: How do subplots factor into the diagram? Lately I've had some issues with adding length to my novels and figured adding some subplots would work for that. Do you have any advice for weaving subplots into a story?

    I thought about using the electrical panel's wiring to the main (two hot wires lead from the power company's supply into the main, and return through a neutral wire) to represent subplots, but I worried that it might be more confusing than helpful to put subplot feeds into the main conflict on the diagram.

    What you might do is split out the subplots on either side of the main on your diagram. Using The Hunt for Red October as an example --

    Main: A Russian captain defects with a prototype silent-running missile submarine.

    SubCon #1: A CIA analyst theorizes the Russian captain is trying to defect and, despite heavy opposition, tries to help him.

    SubCon #2: One of the Russian captain's former students pursues the prototype boat with orders to sink it.

    SubCon #3: An American sub Captain finds a way to track the silent-running boat and must choose to follow orders to destroy him, or help him defect.

    SubCon #4: A spy on board the Russian captain's sub tries to kill the defectors and sink the sub.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Here's an added benefit to this awesome outline: I had DH, Mr. Physicist and all-things-mechanical guy, look over your post and he said it was an "Ah-ha!" moment for him--a real eye-opener as to why it is so stinkin' time comsuming to sit down and write a book. :)

    So thanks for explaining it in a way I haven't been able to.

    ReplyDelete
  37. OMG! My father and DH are both journeyman wireman, and this hit home on so many levels. I've seen these diagrams all my life and never once thought of them and plotting. I'm not a plotter by nature, I usually have the beginning and ending, and leave the rest to my panster ways. But this will help me get from the beginning to the end much easier.

    Thanks,
    Jessie

    ReplyDelete
  38. I really like this analogy.

    And I actually feel that I understand the broad framework of wiring - though I wouldn't want to do it yet.

    (Except for my next project.)

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  39. This is definitely a metaphor for plot I would have never thought of myself! Very helpful to have new ways of looking at it. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I like the simplicity of this diagram, and how from the framework, a more complex plot can be built. I like simple.

    And I need some electrical work done in my kitchen. But I'm fighting that inspiration.

    Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Wow, and thanks. This definitely gave me a new way to look at the WIP and possibly a way to work out some of the snags I've encountered.

    ReplyDelete
  42. As the daughter of an electrician the diagram method makes perfect sense. I wish I'd thought of it.

    ReplyDelete
  43. This totally rocks!! I need to re-read it. But there's something about it that fits well with the wiring in my pragmatic brain works.

    Thanks...

    ReplyDelete
  44. Anonymous11:53 AM

    Thank you for the insights and for the explaination of how one might add in subplots. I'm currently revising the rough draft of my first novel and I think diagramming out the plot like this might help ensure I have the right time line and enough umph in certain spots. Thanks again and I look forward to the other workshops!

    Shannon

    ReplyDelete
  45. That's an interesting simile for plotting. I go between being a plotter and a bit loosey-goosey with planning when I write, but I can see how being more structured would help if you're doing it professionally.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I really enjoyed your workshop on plot. I am just getting started and it was perfect timing to get such a clear and easy to follow plan! Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Intricate indeed! I'm a combo plotter-pantser myself. I plot, just not very detailed. I've used the analogy of Christmas lights for plotting, as the wire connecting the lights is the story's spine and each light a plot point and/or character. One light goes out, none of the lights work. So it's still electrical, right? 8^P I'm so NOT a linear thinker, lol!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hmmm, never would have thought of plotting as similar to wiring my house, but it works. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Thanks, I really enjoyed this perspective on plotting! The analogy makes a lot of sense and gives my brain a more logical way of thinking through plot issues.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I really like this way of thinking about it! Although it makes me worry that my main somehow lacks power or maybe that I'm thinking about what the main conflict is incorrectly... Oh dear.

    And wow, so many interesting sounding links! I have a lot of reading to do this week, it would seem. XD

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'll keep it short and sweet. I loved the pictures and the text that went along with it. Some people can teach in a manner the common people understand.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Anonymous12:55 PM

    Thanks for a fresh and unique paradigm for plotting. I'll definitely try wiring the plot for my next novel--though, knowing my subconscious, I'll have to be ready for the inevitable short circuits. :)

    Rio

    ReplyDelete
  53. Thank you so much for the wiring diagram! I am trying to figure out the plot method that works best for me. I can't wait to try this one out.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I love the way you can come up with new ways to look at planning and plotting, and make sense while doing it! Thanks for the VWs!

    ReplyDelete
  55. I have always felt I needed pre-planning, but get bogged down halfway through. This might be the right compact form to work for me. I will give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing, and for all the links to other great workshops!

    ReplyDelete
  56. Does water mix with plotting as well as it does with electricity?

    ReplyDelete
  57. Sara Henderson1:19 PM

    Great analogy. Cheryl Corbin told me about the LB&LI concept and I think it's fantastic. Thanks for thinking of us who can't/won't make it to RWA.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Good to have something to do while missing Nationals this year.

    Great analogy, although, I hated circuits in college when I had some engineering courses. :)

    ReplyDelete
  59. Interesting. I think I'll give this a try. I've been using index cards and timelines, but after a while things get muddled and I end up just writing which gets me into all sorts of trouble that this wiring might keep me out of.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Thanks, PBW. I like what you say about the main. The whole "plotting" business is a little scary to me, all these plot threads and characters and scenes jumbled up in my head with no clue where they're supposed to go. Figuring out the main conflict first might straighten it out a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Ronda1:46 PM

    Brilliant way of looking at it! Thanks for the logical system, I will use it.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I'm a fogwalker - try not to plot because it interferes with my process but I'm totally with you about the girl/electrical thing - and the plumbing thing. I grew up with a dad who taught me if not how that I could do anything. And I can.

    And I'm thinking of trying a romantic suspense novel, which means I'm going to have to plot. The diagram looks like the way to go.

    Thanks!

    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  63. This is probably one of the best plotting analogies I've seen. Very concrete - lovely stuff! Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  64. This analogy really has me thinking and enthusiastic to start my writing for today. I'd try to say more, but I'm in the mood to write now. :)

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  65. This is very helpful -- I tend to be a real pantser, but I'm trying to be more disciplined in my plotting. So many other methods seem far too complex, but for some reason this analogy really works for me.

    Thanks for giving us such a valuable writing tool!

    ReplyDelete
  66. That was a fascinating post. At first it sounded strange but by the end made so much sense.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I think I've learned as much here as I would have in SF. The links have been invaluable.

    Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
  68. I like the analogy, it's very similar to how I write computer programs.

    ReplyDelete
  69. Wonderful! Thanks so much. I'm a bit phobic about strict plotting, but this is such a great approach.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I'm reading and reading about writing, thinking about trying NaNoWriMo this year. I think the LB&LI workshops all sound wonderful. And I'm very much a left-brainer so the wiring analogy makes sense to me!

    ReplyDelete
  71. Fascinating post. What a unique perspective on plotting. I will never look at my electrical panel quite the same way either.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Great post. I enjoyed the anology you used. I learned alot.

    ReplyDelete
  73. Thanks. I'm going to give this a try and see if it works for me.

    ReplyDelete
  74. I've read this post and started laying out my current WIP with your method...too soon to tell if I will be able to keep it for the long hall.

    I also wanted to say that we're so lucky you do this. I've explored the links and I'm getting so much out of this.

    Thank you!!

    ReplyDelete
  75. Electrical wiring template. Love it. This is a great analogy and I can see how it could really work with plotting. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  76. Thanks for the virtual workshop. I can appreciate the "I'm a girl and can fix things" - maybe that's why my first career was in engineering.

    Time to go check out the other links.

    ReplyDelete
  77. I tend to be one of those wing it people. But I love your analogy and will attempt to adapt it to my current haphazard methods (methods...what methods....)
    I did try to print out your diagram only to find it printed in a tiny 2 inch by 3 inch block. I hope you don't mind but I redid it in word.
    Helen Rudd

    ReplyDelete
  78. I was a pantser for years, but then lost faith in my writing. I'm trying to get that faith back by plotting to prove to myself that I do indeed have a real book.

    This will be a week of inspiration. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  79. What an interesting post about plotting.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Tamith6:22 PM

    I especially liked that bit about getting rid of characters that were a drain on the system. Thanks for this.

    ReplyDelete
  81. I just found your blog, and am bookmarking it because of this post. Thanks so much for the good info.

    ReplyDelete
  82. Thank you so much for including the other blogs. Emma Wayne Porter's is just what a organization phobic person like myself needs!
    Helen Rudd

    ReplyDelete
  83. Hmm. the subplot idea could turn a house into a mansion, eh? I remember my old 2-story house had two electrical panels, one for each floor. So taking that analogy, the main conflict controls the entire mansion, with characters/events spreading out on multiple floors and wings to the mansion. Within each 'wing' you have subplots. They all feed into the main conflict, but have some of their own characters/events that define their wing as something unique, etc...

    erm... maybe... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  84. Melissa K8:12 PM

    This is a very interesting method. I have tried other methods of plotting in the past, so I many just have to try this one. It was easy to understand. Thanks!!

    ReplyDelete
  85. I'm also loving the new template she posted. I can't wait to use it for my next story I'm planning. Plot simplified. What more could you want?

    ReplyDelete
  86. Amazing new spin on plotting. :)

    ReplyDelete
  87. Very good visual. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  88. I LOVE this template. I just discovered this blog, and am amazed at the amount of info you have here. Thank you so much...this plotting will definitely help me.
    Christie Smith

    ReplyDelete
  89. If i ever tried to sit down and write a book thsi is the way i would have to to it. I think I could write if I wanted to but it's not in my blood. I heard to truly be good you have to have talent and then hone it. So I wouldn't love doing it it would be just a job. So I'll stick to my reading.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Susan B.9:36 PM

    Lynn,

    I have used something similar for years-Webbing. However, I usually add to my chart & sometimes it's a mess. I like your form chart on scribe-much easier to keep track of.

    Thank you for the information & the chance at the great prizes.

    Susan

    ReplyDelete
  91. I remember the first time I looked inside an electrical panel. I was raised to believe that females were not supposed to touch anything with wires. Plus just seeing all those mysterious switches and lugs and knowing high voltage came through this thing -- who in their right mind would mess with that?

    Well put. I personally find myself when overwhelmed in that type of situation to have the glazed eyes look and a bit of drool...and a shiny dangerous object. I think to myself...if this shiny thing can fix all the other stuff in my house, why not???

    Definitely loving this workshop. :) No other authors I've ever read could make a diagram sound like a chocolate cookie that I must seek out!

    ReplyDelete
  92. I appreciated this. I'm a 'plotzer' in that I start with characters, a beginning, an end, and some idea of important scenes in the middle, but not really a detailed plot (and if I try to do so, I wind up wandering way off track, anyway) -- which means I'm always looking for good ways of organizing all those pieces, and I think this is definitely worth exploring. :)

    ReplyDelete
  93. Thanks for starting this workshop! I'm definitely a plotter, not a pantser.

    ReplyDelete
  94. This is definitely worth a try. My problem with writing is that I have no problem coming up with awesome characters and settings, but then I don't know what to do with them, and they end up sitting around, drinking tea and discussing Sartre.

    Conflicts are not my strong suit.

    ReplyDelete
  95. ManiacScribbler10:42 PM

    The most plotting that I ever do is usually to know what my beginning and my end looks like. Haha I'll have a very fuzzy idea of what the middle looks like, but it's not always guaranteed. I have tried, though. It seems like my muse really does not like to have things made out for her, though. But I have tried. Maybe I'll try with this, and we'll see how it goes from there. ^^
    ManiacScribbler

    ReplyDelete
  96. Thanks for organising all these workshops for us, it's great. I think this electrical diagram would also work when you're trying to desperately write your synopsis (which we all dread), it seems so simple when you look at your example, but I'm sure there's a few hours of sweat poured into it.

    ReplyDelete
  97. WOWO What a great post!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  98. I'm intrigued to try this out! I'm usually a meticulous outliner, and this method is quite different from anything I've seen before, but I want to at least try it out for my next story. Really liked section III, "The Main".

    Looking forward to checking out some of those other workshops as well.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Wow. Never thought of it this way. I always have great parts for the plot but it never seems to gel. I'll have to give this a go and see if I can make it work for me.

    Thanks! I look forward to more!

    ReplyDelete
  100. Comments for this workshop are now closed and the giveaways have been awarded. If you have any questions regarding this workshop, please stop by my open Q&A here at PBW on Tuesday, August 4, 2008.

    ReplyDelete