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? (http://pamelafosterspeakerwriter.wordpress.com/)

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.

Write.

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?

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!!

Writing Tips: Plotting Your Bestseller

Posted by: Pamela Foster

www.pamelafosterspeakerwriter

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“How’dya  come up with the idea for that story?”

That’s the question I hear most from non-writers.

Well, that’s the query I hear the most after, “I’ve got a great idea for a story.  How ‘bout I tell you about it, you write it and we’ll share the profits?”

For writers, a more pertinent query is, “After that first scene comes to you, how the heck do you plot your way through three hundred pages?”

The answer is that we all do it differently.

Staci Troili uses a plot board that would send me screaming into the woods.  http://stacitroilo.com/2012/07/30/how-project-planning-in-corporate-america-helped-me-write-novels/  But it works for her.   Her books are wonderful.

Dusty Richards tells me he doesn’t know until he writes each chapter what’s going to happen, says that’s the fun of writing.  Since he’s published over 100 western novels, I’m going to concede that method works for him.

Claire Croxton insists the first thing she does when sitting down to start a new novel is find perfect names for the cats. Again, the method works for her.  There’s nobody better at southern snark than Croxton.

Here’s what I do:

I generally start a new book with a vision that comes to me while I’m gazing blankly off into space or washing my hair in the shower or staring at someone at Walmart,  er I meant to say Neiman Marcus, and wondering what on earth they think they’re doing.

Once I have that first scene, I start writing.  This means I often flounder around a bit in the beginning of a book. End up with half-a-dozen false starts on my computer.  But, eventually the characters take shape and stumble through their story for me.

In case you’re not already thoroughly confused about how best to plot, click this link to find out what everyone from L’Amour to King to Irving have to say about plotting.  http://matadornetwork.com/notebook/thoughts-on-plot-by-famous-writers/

Here, finally, is my point.  There are people out there who will share with you what works for them.  Take advantage of that knowledge.  Part of the writing process is sorting through all the expert opinions and dividing what works for you from what you need to drop like a hot rock.

In the end, it’s your story. Only you can find it and only you can tell it.

Join the discussion:

So, how’dya come up with story ideas?  Once you’ve got that idea like a splinter in your brain, how’dya plot the rest of the book?