Plotting–All You Need is the Tip of the Iceberg

Okay, I’ll tell you the truth.  I’m in California at the moment.  And, yes, I know, the stereotype of the Golden State is that the entire land mass is one giant L.A.  But, you’re thinking of the wrong end of the state.  I’m from the far north and that’s where I am visiting.  With family.  Not a single one of whom has a computer.  I’m serious.  And it gets odder still.  Unless I borrow my mother’s Volvo and drive ten miles to the library, I have no Internet access at all.  Talk about off the grid.  I’m not kidding when I tell you I’m going into Bigfoot Country.

And I love it.

However, since it’s my turn to write The Sisterhood blog, and I’m off playing with Bigfoot, I am re-blogging an earlier post from my personal blog.  So, if you’ve already read this post, I apologize. If it’s new to you, then hop on over to my blog and sign up as a follower. See what you’ve been missing? (

But, seriously. . .here’s the post.

The way I plot is to have a scene or character in my head, sit in front of a computer and let that scene play out on the monitor.  I become the character and follow where they lead.  Very soon after starting a new book, usually within the first draft of the first chapter, I have a general idea of where the story is going.  This sometimes veers slightly as a character refuses my direction and goes off on her own, but within a few thousand words, the general plot is visible to me.  After that, I start each chapter with a clear objective in mind and then follow the character.

As I write, the plot becomes more and more clear.

I think of the story as ice that forms slowly in my subconscious until one day it breaks off and floats into my conscious.  I see only the tip, but the entire story is there.  All I do is allow myself to see below the surface in order to get the tale on paper.

 Of course, I go back and tighten the plot thread in the second draft.  Tighten it again in the third draft.  But all I have when I sit down and type that first word on the computer is a scene, an idea for a character, a vague image of a storyline.  

It has come as somewhat of a surprise to me that this is NOT the way most authors write.

Evidently, many people have actual plot boards and outlines and bar graph.

Here’s what I want you to take away from this post:

Each of us has a different writing process.  Find yours.  Try everything until you stumble on what works for you.  Then write.  Write everyday, even if all you have time for is to scribble a story idea on the back of a Walmart receipt.  No writing is wasted.  Everything you create will stay with you and, if it doesn’t fit in what you’re currently writing, it will find you again when you need it for the next book.  Stop trying to get it perfect before you touch fingers to keyboard.  You are a writer.


And, when you take a break, please share  with us how you plot.  Do you channel a character?  Design a spread sheet?  Fall into a trance?


Claire Croxton Romance Author


I was talking to some new acquaintances recently. Since I write romance, they were curious about my dating history. They wanted to know if having a series of good dates makes one a good romance author or if having bad dates does. Well, I have to say that you need to experience both in order to tap into the whole gamut of human emotions.

I’m pretty easy to get along with and I’m non-judgmental, so I consider a lot of dates okay that my friends freak out about…frog gigging for example. You’ve got to roll with it, you know?

I’d say the date that did the most damage happened in high school. To this day, I still feel the pain of this date. The pain of rejection never goes away. It hovers just below the surface and resurrects itself at the slightest hint of dismissal. Years of therapy later…

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Collaboration or Catastrophe?

Would you like a recipe for catastrophe?  Combine five, very distinctive and opinionated women writers, fold in unique writing styles, shift in a myriad of different genres. Beat it together to pour out a unified presentation.

You’d think you’d have a catastrophe, right? Five hard-headed women with strong hearts with nothing in common besides the love writing and for each other.

Well, the Sisterhood’s gathering resulted in laughter and….of course…a kick ass presentation.

Trust me, we’re well aware that we’d get a lot more work done if we’d just shut up and work instead of rolling on the floor laughing.

I think this is good insight into the behind-the-scenes of a Sisterhood meeting.

Love this one. It shows who we are so well. Ruthie has said something extremely off color–check out the grin on her face. You know it had to be good for Pam to have a surprised look on her face. Jan, is secretly thinking “God, I wish I could’ve said that out loud!” Linda is being Linda…appreciating anything and everything. I was laughing too hard to make it into the picture.

I made it into this picture, but as you can see none of us could take it very seriously.

I’m not sure what we were thinking, but you have to admit Jan looks pretty darn sexy on that table!

Don’t ask. It doesn’t take us long to slip into goofball mode.

Hot Damn! Bigfoot!!


Post by Ruth Burkett Weeks

Costumes vs. Pens— Grease paint vs. Ink.—Leading roles vs. Point-of-View—Acting vs. Writing.

Acting vs. Writing

Long before I became a professional writer, before Soldiers From the Mist and The Rook and The Raven, I dreamed of being a professional actress. To achieve this goal, I studied drama at the University of Arkansas and became a member of the Rogers Little Theatre (a local community theatre). Alas, I never made it to Broadway or Hollywood, but I did perform in quite a few productions.

In order to become the memorable character actor that I am, I learned to literary step out of my shoes and into those of my character. While on stage, Ruth disappeared only to be replaced by the many personalities of the characters I portrayed.  Everything I saw, thought, touched, and smelt was from the viewpoint of the character I became.

Sound familiar?  The same holds true in writing.

While writing, me, myself, and I fall completely head-over-heels into the mind and life of my point-of-view character. Ruth fails to exist. Instead, I transform into a Confederate soldier. Fly. Conjure. Shapeshift. Walk through dimensions.

People often ask me how I can sit for hours and just write. I’m going to let you in on a little secret–I don’t really write.  I create. Creativity doesn’t punch a time clock, has no knowledge or even cares about housework, bills, or bedtime. Creativity defies man-made rules and spits in the face of boredom.  That’s how.

Which do I like better?  Acting or writing?  It’s a tie.

Often, while my fingers are busy typing, I act out the scene I’m working on.  I talk out loud, gesture, and sometimes pace the floor. My fellow sisters can attest that when I read out loud, I actually talk in the dialect of my characters.  A  smooth Jamaican accent as Madame Katanga, a lazy Southern drawl with Bethany Ann, or a lyrical Irish brogue as Big Mike.

What about you?  Do you act out your scenes?  Next time you flirt with writer’s block, try acting out. Wear a cowboy hat. Put on ruby-red slippers. Sip a mint julep on the veranda. Howl at the moon.

Acting out does a body good. (And it works wonders with your story, too.)

So, as you can see, there is little difference between a successful actor and a successful writer.  It’s all the same. It’s all connected.

Creativity, of any sort, just works that way.  And I love it.