Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Panster to Plotter: Week One

Thought I had while writing my first book: I understand story rhythms so well that I don't even need to plot!

I was young.

Thought I had while writing my second book: This one page outline kicks ass! Revisions will be soooo easy this time.

Thought I had during my zillionth (approx) round of revisions: SGD$@*$%$BSSNFJ**** (Imagine Tony Soprano swearing, then multiply it to the power of ten.)

I'm currently between revisions on an MG book that's been a challenge for me to get right. I need a break, so I'm going to try to fast draft a project I've been thinking about for awhile. It's in a totally different genre and I'm not sure it will ultimately go anywhere, but it involves a Pinterest board full of the cowboy from The Longest Ride, so I figure it's worth my time.

At the beginning of this month I read 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron. It was awesome and just what I needed. I'm going to try and adapt some of the techniques she discussed to draft this project fast and smart. 

I'm writing this post because one of my favourite procrastination techniques is to read about how other people write, and I'm trying to give back to the procrastination community. You're welcome :)

Here's what I've done so far:

1. I wrote out all the major plot points I knew I wanted to happen, then turned them into a two page synopsis. It's rough and I'm sure it will change, but it highlighted gaps and showed me what I still needed to work through. 

2. I wrote a chapter by chapter outline, with a paragraph (or three) for each chapter. This was really helpful because I could plot out entire arcs and then jump around and add sneaky clues into previous chapters, which will save SO MUCH REVISION TIME. My paragraphs ended up a mixture of plot points, snippets of dialogue, and facts about characters' motivations and personalities.

3. I put the same table at the end of each chapter and went through checking and filling out the following:
  • Am I moving the story forward?
  • Is there new information?
  • Am I pulling the reader forward?
  • How does this fit with the two MC's character arcs?
  • How does it fit with their relationship arc?
  • Mystery clues and reveals?
  • What do I need to figure out/research before I can write?
  • Timeline?
4. I wrote down how long I worked each day, where, and the time of day. (Rachel recommended this to look for patterns in times of day/workplaces that are most productive.)

I ended up with 29 pages (10,500 words). It took me about fifteen hours (this *may* have included a few Pinterest breaks.)

Next step: Importing each chapter into its own Scrivener folder with files for my notes and my checklists.

Are you a panster or a plotter?


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