Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Plot or Pants?

I'm going to start today with a check in about my lifestyle change (not calling it a diet). Since I put it out there last week, I figure updating will help keep me accountable. Today is my weigh-in. I joined SparkPeople 2 weeks ago and I'm down 5.4 pounds. I did really well following the guidelines for eating. There was only 1 day that I was over a little. I'm not doing enough exercise but I am doing more than before so I'm satisfied. I do need to step it up but I plan to get more motivated about it once I'm done with the part time job.

Speaking of which, tomorrow is my last day. Then I'm a full time writer. I'm hoping then that I can blast through the revisions of Out of the Shadows and get immersed in a new story. I've started my process for a new project. I always start with the characterization of the two main protagonists. I write down their backstory, some of which never gets into the story but I know it. I write down their goals, motivation and main conflict to reaching that goal. Then I write the conflicts they each have, a list of 20 for each character. Once I have all this info, I can start plotting out my story.

Yes, I'm a plotter. I like to get the major plot points down. Then I figure out how to go from one to the next while I'm writing. After doing the conflict lists, I usually have several scenes already in my head. Doing it this way keeps me on track but the story is still fresh for me. I know a lot of pantsters (those that write by the seat of their pants) say that if they plot it out, they feel it's already written and they usually abandon it. I need some structure, though. I tried pantsing it got stuck. For months.

So this is my process. It's what works for me. I feel lucky that I've found my groove as some writers struggle with that. I've tried different methods, and I'm open to try others, but I know that I can always go back to this if it doesn't work out. Or I may incorporate new aspects into my tried-and-true. It's all a learning process.

So what's your process? Are you a plotter or a pantster? How do you start a new story?


Caroline Clemmons said...

Riley, I am a plotter, too. I do take a few detours along the way, but always come back to the plotlines.

I admire your goal to lost weight as well. I'm trying on my own. I tried Weight Watchers several years ago, but hate it so much I ALMOST would rather be overweight. If I can't lose on my own, though, I'll go back to WW.

Congratulations on writing full time. I love it and would hate like everything to go back to a day job! Best of luck with your writing from one Tex gal to another--even though you're transplanted now.

Ruth M. said...

I am absolutely a plotter. I like to know not only my characters well, but where they are going and how to get there. Then I can sit back and write the meat to place on the bones.

Ruth M.

Indigo said...

Pantser all the way, and your right whatever works for you. I love the thrill of not knowing where the story will take me. The discovery of key points that take me by surprise and realizing the possibility of the same reaction from my readers.

I'm taking this week off, in order to give myself breathing room from my WIP. Next week is when the revision hell starts. (Hugs)Indigo

Joanne Stewart said...

I'm in the middle. I need to know certain details. I need to know a beginning and the ending and maybe one or two scenes in the middle or I find myself stuck. I also need to know GMC. I don't write anything down though. Which is where the pantser in me takes over. Cause if I actually write it down, then I start to lose interest in the story.

Congrats on writing full time. I write full time myself, and I love having the time to do it. <3

Kathy Otten said...

My characters lurk on the preriphery of my mind until I pay attention to them. I start with a scene or whatever bits of dialogue come to me. Then I ask them questions about their goals, fears etc. I usually know where the story is going and what the dark moment will be, but the rest comes randomly . When I have time I try to put those scenes in some kind of approximate order, fill in the blanks, and I have a rough draft.

Tanya Hanson said...

Congrats on the full-time writer position! It's the best one ever! oxox

Gale Stanley said...

Definitely a pantser. God knows I've tried to plot, taken workshops, read books, yada, yada, yada. It doesn't help. The characters get in my head and they take me where they want to go. Congrats on the weight loss and the last day of the day job!

Debra St. John said...

Good luck with your lifestyle change and your full time writing career!

I myself am a pantster, although I do some (very minimal) initial plotting at the very beginning of things. After that, the story just kind of comes about on its own. (When it's in the mood.)

Lisa said...

This is kind of like 'peanut butter' vs. 'chocolate' in my world. I do a little of both. I pants the ideas and then I plot them out - put meat on the bones.

Congratulations on all of your life changes!

Leigh D'Ansey said...

I tend to rush into something, get the first few chapters down and then do the planning. It's not ideal and next time I begin something I've vowed to do at least a plot outline from the beginning.

Congrats on your life changes!

Denise said...

Hi Riley! Congrats on the full-time writer life! I'm so jealous! I'm a hybrid - think someone might have called it "plantser." Usually a character makes themselves known to me, pesters me into submission and then takes me willy nilly into their world and their life. Occassionally, it's a cool environment or a what-if situ. Once I get started, I begin to see the ending ghosting on the horizon and that's where a touch of plotting comes into play - can I get there from here? How? When? With whom? And then we're really off to the races. Thanks for getting me to think about my process, what process there is, of writing. And super congrats on the weight loss!

Joanna Aislinn said...

Pantser but learning that plotting has it's place, especially when suspense is involved :)

Sounds like you're doing great with your lifestyle change! Keep the positives in mind and let them keep growing--before you know it you'll be in a whole different place :)

Joanna Aislinn
The Wild Rose Press

Rebecca J. Clark said...

First of all, congrats on the weight loss. Sparkpeople is awesome. I send a lot of my clients there.

Second, thanks for a great post. I'm a pantser who's trying to be a plotter, because pantsing takes so long to get a book done. I'm trying to just figure out key scenes, then figure out how to get there as i write. I love your idea for writing down the conflicts for each character. Is this the conflicts that get in the way for their story goal?

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