I’ve been thinking about plotting lately. You know, that map some authors create and utilize so successfully when planning a new book. I, however, am NOT one of those writers who plot. Yes. My name is Calisa, and I’m a pantser. So how do I keep my stories straight in my head? Hmm. I don’t really know, since I can’t seem to remember to take my twice-daily medicine doses most days. 🙂 But I can sit and write with fairly coherent structuring as I go. Now ask me to write out of sequence or plan out scenes, chapters or a whole book before I type my first word and…forget it. I’m lost before I ever start.
I tried to keep character sheets once, a lo-o-ong time ago. It didn’t work. My characters tell me who they are, what they look like or what their careers are, as they unfold, as their story unfolds. Usually the most I might know about a character BEFORE I type the first word is eye color, name and often their height. Often times I’ll have a title before the end of chapter one, but not always.
I do always have a title before the last word is down. I can’t write a whole book without a chapter as my North Star. The title always reflects the book for me, represents my plot, my end result. The title, for me, is like a mini tagline in one to five words. It sums up the main theme or idea of the book, of one or both main characters. By now you’ve cheated and noticed the images below. You are possibly wondering “If you don’t plot, what is that?” Below is my idea pf plotting. In the order I write, and it makes about as much sense as my first draft often does. But there is a definite GMC within. Or at least a G and C. I left the M=motivation out of this for a reason (yes, other than I forgot to include it :P). But don’t leave out the motivation in your writing. That is the whole reason your mcs even have goals or conflicts! The motivation is the why of any story. Without it there would be no need for the goal to succeed or conflict to worry about from page one.
When I begin writing I focus on who my characters are and what their internal conflicts are. That is what I have in the first screen shot.
Note that both mcs don’t necessarily have to have an internal conflict, but if that’s the case, the one who does needs to have a conflict strong enough to carry both characters. In this next shot I introduce the external conflict. This is what pushes the hero and heroine together and then pushes them apart time and again. You HAVE to have this element and it HAS to be enough that a simple solution can’t solve it. This is the conflict that will usually work up to the black moment. This conflict will cause the critical moment when all seems lost so it has to be believable. That does not mean it has to be extreme or overly dramatic. But it does have to be something that isn’t easily avoided way back in chapter three. If it can be, then that’s where your story needed to end and what kind of story would that be? 😀 So make sure the external conflict does its job.
As I write things fall into place. It may be a place that particular scene has no business being. I make notes to myself with track change to keep up with any area I have questions about, or maybe need to research. I don’t worry about all these details while writing because I would never finish the ms. I would forever be going back over things (more than I already do just editing as I write, which seems to be the only way my OCD brain can write), instead of writing new content. So, notes to self help when I go back to start actual editing. I may move a whole scene, or just a line of dialogue, but I make notes because if I didn’t–well, let’s just say my mind isn’t what it used to be and I’ve learned not to rely too heavily on it to remember from day to day, much less the month to month process writing a manuscript often takes.
You want to make things hard for your h/H. Make them work for their HEA. You don’t have to torture them (though that’s the fun way!) but don’t make anything easy either. Tempt and deny them at least two times before the black moment. And make those ‘squabbles’ believable too. Not like real life where the house could crumble over a menu choice. Or is that just my house? Oh well. *shrugs*
Then hit those love birds with everything in your writerly arsenal! The critical moment when you just know there is no possible way to come together for any remotely happy ending… And then they show you it can be done and they will have their HEA damn it!
I have these steps laid out in one page. It’s a guide only to make sure I get all my elements in each story. Nothing more. And I will be revising to add the M.
Seriously, plotting hurts my head. I looked at a Pinterest page of a plotter instructor and cringed. 😆 It hurt! But for those of you who do plot, kudos and I admire you!
Not sure if you are a plotter or pantser? Feel free to email me and I’ll send a word doc of this template to guide your writing if you think it might help.
Want to plot or learn how to plot? Then this is probably not the place for you.
That page, here, could be somewhere for you pre-plotters to begin. If looking at the page doesn’t hurt you, then I’d guess you might be a plotter.
Happy writing no matter what your process.