Plotting

Outlining Your Novel

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Stole the title from K.M. Weiland‘s A-mazing book, Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success.

One, because that what this post pertains to. 

Two, because it’s freaking amazing. 

Three, because I’m reading it right now. 

Four, because it taught me a lot about outlining and planning 

 

But what the book taught me wasn’t so much in the words or instructions, though those are helping me a LOT right now, too! One thing, the big thing, that I learned while reading this, is what it means to be a writer. To be a writer is to question. Why do people act the way they do? What makes people tic? (tick?)  In any case, this post is part regular blog post, part book review (even though I’m only half-way through it.) 

Back to being a writer. You must question. Question everything. Question the obscure, the normal, the obvious. Question the way we’ve always done things. Question history, question science. Anything and everything. Nothing is too outlandish. To be a writer, you have to have an unquenchable thirst for questions. Not for answers. We’re not here to provide answers. We, as writers, are here to make readers feel. Now, onto plotting and the book. 

 

Plotting is a thing that is met with either derision, or ever-lasting love. There isn’t much of a middle ground. You either swear by it, or swear it off. I used to swear it off. I hated the idea of plotting or outlining. Now, I hesitate to start anything without giving it a go again. But I wasn’t quite sure where to begin, as I am still in the “discovery” part of Blame the Moon, and didn’t think I knew enough about the novel or the characters or the world to even start planning. So I did some world building. But I stopped, because I am one of those people who could over plan a world to the point where the story would be forced to mold to the world. Instead of the other way around, as it should be. 

So I stopped world building. But then I was stuck, how to start figuring things out? On Twitter a day or so ago, I saw a link to a blog post with another writer talking about her experiences reading Outlining. I’ll admit, I didn’t read the blog post, but I did remember that I had the book on my kindle. So I pulled it up and started reading. 

And let me tell you, it sparked so many ideas for Blame the Moon, you have no idea. The one thing that really kicked it into high gear was the use of “What If?”s and “What’s Expected?” I will leave it at that, but to me, it was revolutionary. 

I highly recommend any writer, plotter or pantser, get this book. Not only for the plotting/outlining itself. But from taking your idea from that first spark to a full-blown novel. I know I am. 

Editing vs Writing vs Planning/Plotting

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Yet again, apologies for my silence.

I have no excuse but for the fact I haven’t been writing. Instead I have been beta-reading/editing a gal’s Mass Effect fan fiction. Which lends itself to this post as it did the last.

Yes, its another pro and con list. I like them.

Writing Pros

Basically the list from last week. In this case I’m talking about writing with no plan

– The world is your oyster. You can do whatever you want. It’s your sandbox and you are king, god, CEO.

– Nothing is out of bounds, so long as it makes sense/fits in your world

Writing Cons

– Progress can stagnate when you don’t have a road map.

– If you change or add something midway through going back and adding it can be migraine inducing.

– You have to rely on your brain or ongoing notes to keep physical descriptions, personality/speech quirks, places, maps, etc straight in your work.

Planning Pro’s

– Since nothing is set in stone you can play around with thoughts/ideas/side plots you wouldn’t ordinarily do while writing.

– If you make major changes late in the game, notes are easily added to change earlier chapters.

– You can explore ideas in full before committing to them.

Planning Cons

– It’s easy to ‘burn out’ and feel like the actual writing is like pulling teeth.

– It is also easy, in the writing, to feel like the plot is ‘locked in’ and no changes can be made.

Editing Pros

– The world and characters and story are already there. No creation needed.

– Editing is so easy. You’re polishing, prettying and perfecting.

Editing Cons

– Big changes are a big responsibility. Hell, even small changes have long reaching effects. Try removing even a side character and it’s a pain.

– It’s easy to get bogged down in the details.

– It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that it’ll never be perfect. There’s always something that can be fixed. The trick is knowing when to stop fixing.

Plotting

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Plotting is hard.

And now, for this Mass Effect Big Bang, they want a plan by the 24th, along with the 2,000 total words I need to have by that time.

I’m not too worried about the wordcount honestly, more worried about my story.

I know how it started (duh, I’ve already written it). I know how it ends (oh it’s going to be SO sad). I know a few things in the middle. But nothing more than that.

I just thank the Spirits that Azzy (one of the gals that runs the Big Bang) set up a beta for me who is willing to be a sound board. Hell yes!

But… I don’t know how to plot. I really don’t.

But, I can’t sleep, so might as well give it a shot, right?

Any tips or tricks you can offer, just drop a comment. Please?