Friday, November 19, 2010

Hatching plots

I've always been what's called a pantser, writing by the seat of my pants without knowing where the story might wind up. That's not working for me anymore. Too many times lately, work on a manuscript has come to a halt because I didn't know what happened next. That was okay when I was writing for my own amusement but now I'd like to get paid for my work, even it's just enough to buy books. One of the best ways to do that is to keep writing and keep publishing. Spending a week or more figuring out how to get from Point G to Point H, in the middle of writing the novel, and probably having to do it again a few more times, doesn't exactly help with that goal. I've tried outlining before but never successfully. I'd get a few steps into it and get impatient and start writing. Only to stop at some point because I didn't know what happened next, or I had a new character to introduce and didn't know enough about them, or some other problem. So I've decided I've got to start preparing complete outlines. I'm going to use the snowflake method and instead of stopping at step two and half, I'm going to complete the thing. And then write the damn book (that would be Step 10 on the list I made for reference.)

Are you a pantser or a plotter? If you're a plotter, what method do you use? If you're a pantser, how do you deal with an uncooperative story?

1 comment:

Nerine Dorman said...

I've taken what I like from the Snowflake method and have modified it for my own use. It's especially useful when I've got those "OMG! WTF? What if?" moments so I end up jotting down a 16-word summary of an idea down and saving it to my laptop so I can come back to it later.

I find it's important to build proper pacing in a novel, with three definite climaxes and one big denoument (think Shakespeare's plays). It's a familiar structure and yes, it does mean that one's plot is "not like real life" we're still in the business to provide entertainment.

Try/fail cycles are SO important. And also making sure your main characters aren't all-powerful.