Sunday, July 13, 2008

Plotting question for all you writers...

What I’m Reading: The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng and the Host by Stephanie Meyer

What I’m working on: Secondary characters and subplots

For any of you writer types out there, I have a question.

First, are you a plotter or a panster or a little of both?

Second, do you intentionally create scenes that attack the flaw(s) of your main character? By this I mean, do you consciously think how each scene moves the story along an arc prior to writing the scene? Or do you just write and it somehow happens subconsciously, like the story structure is something you don’t have to think much about? Or maybe you write the scenes and go back and add tension later?

I’m interested in process. I’m finally settling on one that’s easier for me. (Ok, it’s never easy, but it isn’t as hard as it was…..)

Let me know how you do it. Curious writers want to know.



Terry Odell said...

I wish I knew. I know I have to 'plot' insofar as I need to know what plot points the scene I'm writing will cover. But I rarely know exactly how things will play out beyond the next chapter or two. Sometimes only the next scene or two.

I do notice that when my writing slows to a crawl, it's because I'm not sure why the scene is there, or what it needs to be setting up, so in that respect, I'm a plotter. Once I have the plot points for a scene, the words normally flow.

I need my characters and their GMC. As more is revealed to me, I can reveal it to the reader.

But as far as an outline/plan/synopsis/arc for the entire book? Only vague, very broad strokes. My daughter and I spent many fun-filled hours plotting, but what we plotted was more back story with the, "and then something will come back to bite them" openings. I recall I said, "I can worry about the details later," or "That doesn't matter now" as we tried to build a foundation and some of the framework.

And, of course, it's not following that plan exactly, and when I send her chapters to look at, she says, "But when are you going to ...." or "Where did this come from?"

I've probably got 5 scenes in mind when I start writing a book. The rest happens.

mimi said...

A little of both. I usually begin a project with a strong idea about an opener and sometimes the closing, but a lot of air in the middle. Or I'll have some detailed scenes in mind that I know will show up in the book, with dribs and drabs of dialogue, or a visual, or something. Weaving that all together is the challenge.

I've tried plotting techniques like Deb Dixon's GMC plan, and following Vogler's Hero's Journey, but none of these seem to do the trick. Perhaps working by percentages will help: plot turning points of some kind at the 25% (change in relationship), 50% (deepening the relationship/love scene, perhaps?), and 75% marks (75% being the black moment), with another big moment at 95% (this is never going to work out unless I...), then wrap up the story.

I've pretty much determined that your process is organic, and too much trying to make your process resemble someone else's just ends up stifling your writing and your voice. Let the force flow through you, Luke!