This week we talk about recipes for plotting our stories.
I always thought I was a Pantser aka flying by the seat of the pants. It’s the romantic version of the creation of words. As opposed to the evil, organised, planned creation called Plotting. But, as much as I claimed that wild horses would never drag me over to the dark side, I had to come to terms with it. Eventually.
The first pin to burst my bubble was the matter of a full request from an agent. With first draft in hand I had to begin the process of edits. Yup, some like ’em, some hate ’em. But editing, like sleep, is totally and unequivocably necessary. So I edited.
Problem was, my WIP had timelines and flashbacks. And I’d only done two things to get this novel moving :
1. Planned the whole novel in my head aka many, many daydreams.
2. Used Chris Vogler’s 12 Step Hero’s Journey in THE WRITER’S JOURNEY to do a rough outline, and used the 3 Act structure to plane the beginning, middle and end (yeah, I promised myself this was not plotting)
So when I started my edit, I realised I was all fired up with no idea where I needed to go. So I Googled. Yup. I did. The amazing thing was I found I was not alone in my quest to learn.
And further I found I had actually done a bit of serious planning along the way. You see, I like mind maps. I love to visualise things. And I’m a bit lazy to do the whole pen and paper thing. A while back I’d searched online for a neat mapping tool and found Freemind. It’s brilliant. Even has Export to Excel and Word options. Brilliant. So I mapped out my 3 Acts, then used the 12 Step Hero’s Journey to create a basic structure. And after a while, this is what I ended up with:
Yup. I was totally guilty of plotting. Glad I didn’t know it at the time. Using this ‘guide’ I wrote the book, one scene at a time. Even more amazing, this basic outline was enough to keep me moving so quickly that I finished writing this book in 24 days (not counting weekends as apparently my family owned my weekends and I couldn’t complain, not really).
But, despite this great and detailed amount of non-planning I still had problems editing. So I went back to Excel. Excel and I are friends. After winning NANOWRIMO 2010 I used and eventually bought Scrivener for Windows. Scrivener is amazing, and has the option to Export scene descriptions. So I dumped the final descriptions unto Excel and neatened the spreadsheet up, using it to track my progress, any scene changes, and the length of my scenes for pacing. And this is what I ended up with:
Yup, I pretty much tracked everything, and managed to complete the first full edit in a month. I especially liked the little graphs that measured the length of my scenes. This was awesome for pacing, to remind me to split the longer scenes, to revise in case my scenes were too long and tension filled, and to check if those little scenes were really needed to move the story along. Not to mention a bunch of other things … The best thing the spreadsheet did was to help me with my Timeline, as days, weeks and months merged to create a neat little novel.
And this became my process. You see, I found this publishing company who was keen on me, and as these things go, there are editors and copy editors poking around in those precious words I created. So it’s really good to have a plan under such circumstances. I realised I had created my own little recipe for the creation of a novel.
And as with most recipes it will most likely get tweaked, added too, slimmed down, and eventually perfected into the perfect plan.
And then, it will probably change…
Coming December 16! You let us know why you’ve been naughty or nice and enter to win books at each carni’s booth all week, from 12/16 to 12/23. On Dec. 23, find out what books you’ve won!
In preparation for December’s release of Guardians of the Cross, author T. R. Graves is sending out a coupon which will allow the most-recent edition Warriors of the Cross Click here to downloaded for FREE. Enter coupon LY87N good through 12/20/11. Guardians of the Cross will be released 12/24!
Visit the rest of the Carnival entertainers for their special recipes, concoctions and creations: