Posts Tagged ‘outlining’

Has it actually been a WEEK since I’ve posted? Where does the time go?

I know it’s weird for me to have a blog post again involving plotting. I’ve always been such a total pantser. But, lately, I’ve gone over to the dark plotting side. I’ve done a couple of posts about all that. Susan Bischoff, AKA The Pink Hammer, has shared a lot of notes with me, helping me understand how plotting can help. It took me so long to get it into my thick head that just because I do some plotting, that doesn’t mean my characters can’t go in another direction if they want to. I always thought plotting meant I had to be rigid and not veer off the path, but after some strong talking to, I’ve been convinced that doesn’t have to be the case. The class I took at RNC with Lynn Lorenz also helped. All plotting has to do is give some structure and the basic things you need your story to do. If you think of something different, you can change your outline. Or notes. Or however you plot. I use a combination of a spreadsheet and some notes Susan has set up to ask basic questions. I don’t think I’ll ever get as detailed as Susan gets about a story, but there is a happy medium between extremely detailed plotting and pantsing. And I think I’ve discovered that happy medium.

So what does this mean for my current book? Well, I broke it down into 24 chapters (figuring a 50,000 word manuscript with a little over 2,000 words per chapter) to be adjusted if the story is longer or if there are more or fewer chapters. I went ahead and did the chapter headings with section breaks. (Doing the chapters ahead of time is a suggestion by Lynn Lorenz.) I know everyone is used to using page breaks. But you have to use section breaks for print to get the page numbers right. And when I checked my last book on the little thing they use on Amazon to see what your ebook looks like before submitting, I saw that when I use page breaks, it starts the chapter headings right after the previous chapter, but when I used section breaks, it starts a new page. But I digress. That’s not our topic here. 😛 Anyway, I was already almost halfway through my manuscript when I started plotting. So I went back and did the outline on my spreadsheet for chapters 1-10, which I had already written. Then, I did some outlining for chapters 20-24, because I know what needs to happen in the last part of the book. The challenge is going to be plotting chapters 11-19. That 3rd part of the book is always the hardest for me. I want to make sure the plot continues to move forward with no lagging parts. There has to continue to be mystery and eeriness. I think I’m going to add some extra angst to the hero, who is a very FLAWED hero, but redeemable.

Okay, this whole blog post is getting me anxious to start writing when I get home from work. I might let hubby talk me into watching Sleep Hollow before I get started. So now, lunch break is over, and it’s time to get back to my real job. Wait, writing is a real job, right? Unfortunately, this job pays more, so I need to get to work. 🙂


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I’m a pantser. I admit it. What’s hard to take is when you have friends who mention they can tell a story has been “pants” like it’s some kind of evil. So you can imagine how that makes ME feel. I’ve tried to plot and outline. Every attempt has left me frustrated and made me feel I was losing that creative flow that comes from sitting down and writing before the ideas stop coming. A pantser HAS to write when the idea comes.

If there was one thing I took away from the RNConvention, it was that there’s a better way than plotting OR pantsing. I took a class called “Plotting for Pantsers” given by Lynn Lorenz. She gave us reasons why plotters are too rigid, often taking years to write a book. She said many times they get so caught up in plotting that they never write the story. She also said pantsers often get lost, forget what they named characters, and lose the plot because they forgot to include this or that. So she showed us a way to blend the two together. I won’t go into the whole process, but she basically uses a spreadsheet to start with. She has lines for chapters, different cells for scenes, etc. The way she does this seems really doable for pantsers. And maybe plotters, too. The point is, I think I’ve finally found something that could work for me. Some books, especially novellas, are easy to pants. But when the plot becomes more complicated, you need more structure. She talked about turning points in your story, etc. The way she does this, you can pretty much tell where that turning point is going to be without having a rigid outline. This lady just had it all together, in my opinion.

Btw, the majority of authors in the room were pantsers.

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Those of you that have been following and commenting on my blog know by now how much I HATED, DESPISED, ABHORRED trying to outline my new story. I was using Scrivener and the little note cards on the corkboard. I have discovered two things…1)I don’t think Scrivener has anything to offer that I can’t do other ways, and 2) I can’t outline the same way other people do. Or I can’t outline the way I “thought” other people do. I’ve found, by reading blog comments, there are vastly different ways to outline . What works best for me is to have a basic synopsis of my story with some main points, but not necessarily in outline form. The problem is that I’ve always just had this basic “outline” in my head. What I’m going to do is try to be a hybrid pantser/plotter for now and see how it works. That means WRITING DOWN my synopsis (for lack of a better word to use) instead of having the idea roll around in my head. As I get used to doing this, I might be able to plot a little heavier with each project.

All that being said, I’m either 95 words ahead of my 700 word count or 605 words behind. I have a little spreadsheet (I’m all about the spreadsheets) where I keep up with my word counts. I just haven’t decided whether to count the first day, since I was doing nothing but outlining and cursing (not really because I don’t curse) or start my word count on the second day when I really started writing. For now I’m counting the first day because I think I can catch up. 🙂

On the exercise front…I didn’t get up at 5:30 and walk on the treadmill this morning. I just couldn’t. I stayed up too late last night watching Final Destination 2 (for about the 3rd time) and then I had to watch a little of something else to get my mind off FD2 before I went to sleep. So I was up until about 1:00 or later. But I plan on making up for that tonight. And I’m NOT giving up on the morning walks. Also, I’m learning to eat 1/2 to 2/3 (depending on how big the serving is) of my meals and having the rest for another meal. Cheaper in calories and dollars! Oh, and I’ve lost 8 lbs. 🙂

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