Carefully, carefully with the plots!

Late again! Get it together, girl!! Eventually; I’ll get ‘it’ together eventually. Helping to run a business is no small feat, word nerds, let me tell you! But, that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to let me bring some knowledge down on y’all. Well, then knowledge you shall have.


Last week, we discussed the process of pantsing. For those of you that missed it, pantsing is the processs that, well, has no process. It is free flowing thought going from brain to fingers; verbal diarrhea of the brain onto the page with no guides, no rules, just GO! It is not a ‘process’ for everyone and, for many, can be quite stressful. Thus, we now turn to the careful process of plotting.


Plotting takes time. How much time is up to the individual person, the length of the piece in question, detail, etc. However, it offers a rigid guideline for writers to follow from point A to point B, all the way to ‘The End’.


So, how does one plot?


Unlike pantsing, plotting is highly personalized. Scores of books have been published on just the right way to outline a book, to get the plot fleshed out before the actual writing begins, to bring out the soul of each character. Each outline can be just a brief, single sentence about the chapter (or scene) in question, or a detailed synopsis of what will happen in that particular moment. Amazon has a wonderful array of various books, workbooks, etc on how to outline as does Pinterest and any Google search you might conduct. All of them will show various examples of outline formats, different ways to do it whether that is inside of a program like Scrivener or on sheets of paper, even on Post-Its attached to your wall, if that’s what you fancy. The entire point of plotting, however it might be done, is to give you that guideline to follow. It creates a path of stepping stones that brings your mind into focus and keeps it focused. That, is the biggest bonus of plotting things ahead of time – it keeps you focused on the end game.


If plotting sounds like your cup of tea, then start simple: grab a piece of paper, number it from 1 to 20 (skip a line in between) and just jot down the most basic idea for each chapter. If you need more than 20, then just keep going until you reach your end point, the point where it makes sense for you to say ‘yes, this is a good ending’. Use that as your base guide. Add to it if you need to, throw in character names or setting descriptions if it helps, but it will give you a starting point. Then, grab that blessedly wonderful cup of tea, plant your little tush in that chair and get at it.


Good luck writers.


Favorite Outlining Books:


The Fool Proof Outline by Christopher Downing


How to Write a Novel by Jonathan Reid


Rock Your Plot by Cathy Yardley

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