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Plotting along

I've mentioned before that I lean toward the pantser end of the scale, but with each subsequent book, I do more pre-planning. I know I need a pretty good idea of my destination and way points, or I'll get completely lost, circle the midwest five times, and end up in Mexico if I'm not careful.

This week I started thinking about my next book, Blind Fury. It's not the one I thought I would work on next–neither Diego's story, nor the one I've been hinting at in my recent squirrels. For some reason, I'm not ready for either of those yet, but this next one kind of grabbed me.

I spent the morning attempting to nail down my Inciting Incident, 1st Plot/Turning Point, Middle Transition, 2nd Plot/Turning Point, and Climax. Based on experience, I know I at least need a loose idea of what will happen in each of those sections, who the villain is, what the GMC is for every major character, and what my character arcs are.

Gosh, the more I write, the more of a plotter I become.

Larry Brooks over at had a great post on Tuesday about how to pre-structure your story using “beats” for each scene and the four-part structure that he advocates in his books and on his blog. I'm going to take a stab at doing this in advance for a change.

I'm calling it “plotting by the seat of my pants”.

Tell your friends!


  1. Christine


    Exciting! I love to plot new books and then pant my way through the revisions…

      • Christine


        Ha ha–pant for me like whew whew whew–let this be OVER! Haha.
        I like Curtis’s approach, next time I sit down to plot I want to do a lot of if this, then what kind of question and answering before I write the first draft.

  2. Reply

    I second your motion RE: Larry Brooks and his “beat sheets”.
    I’m thinking a lot of the first draft writing issues are solved with the NaNoWriMo approach. Get a lousy first draft written now. Pull out all the stops. Free associate. Plot on the back of a napkin. Do what ever it takes to get your 50,000 words.

    THEN go back and find your book. Without a first draft, which to me is the place of beginning of our books— there will not likely be a book.

    Public speakers work from a text. i.e. preachers have a “text” they work from that leads to a sermon. Writers create their text, i.e. first draft. From that comes the book. I think we short change ourselves by not writing. Just sitting down or standing up and writing.

    And, see. That’s what I did for the last little bit instead of writing ” thu booook”.

    But, If I will cut and paste what I just wrote and throw it in a file it could become apart of another book. Nothing wasted when we are writers.


    • Reply

      I’m still a bit of a hybrid. I don’t get so caught up in planning that I forget to write, but if I don’t do some planning, I usually end up going in the wrong direction and having to backtrack 20,000 words or so and start over.

      The real key for me is having an idea of the destination, so I can stay close to the road.

      • Reply

        I bet your hybrid approach is a real help in teaching Scrivener.
        I’m wondering. There seems to be two layers of learning the program.
        1.Push this and it will do that . i.e. The mechanics of the program 2. How the program and the various parts/functions serve the writing process.

        Now for a question. I have all kinds of notes, short /long pieces of writing scattered in files, note books and CD’s. Most are pros. My plan is to simply read through the material and assign each chunk a name/topic and throw it in a “name” file. Then I will 1. read through each file. 2. Write, i.e. turn all those associated and related ideas connected with that topic into content.

        I wrote a doctoral dissertation with this method before the word processor was even a twinkle in Word Stars eye. 🙂 But, now I don’t think I have to drown in an ocean of paper like I did then. So:

        How would you suggest I best use Scrivener to serve this process? Or, if you think, I will scrap the process and go a different route.

  3. Reply

    Curtis: There are definitely both layers to Scrivener (or any program for that matter). I try to cover both, when possible, or if the benefit of a program function isn’t obvious.

    I like your idea of creating project “baskets” for your related writing in Scrivener. If groups of your prose can be collected into one work, then by all means, I’d go the Scrivener route. Even if each “scene” is really a poem or something, but they’d all go in one book, I’d use Scrivener.

    And, yes, writing my thesis would have been so much easier with Scrivener! Of course, back then, I was still a Windows gal…

  4. Reply

    Thanks, Gwen. I’ll have to check out the plot beats. My story is stalled so I’m back working on getting the plot nailed down better. I’m becoming a reformed pantser I think. Never thought I’d see the day, but I’ve been lost in the mist too long on the last few stories.

      • Reply

        Do you all think the pantser way is motivated by the sheer joy of free association? The surprise of discovery? The sweet terror of safe risk that can go on in the mind? The trust of our inner structure? Pantsers do have an inner structure. If they didn’t the beat sheet would not work for them. There would be no structure to find, no rhythm or pace to measure. Philosophically, pantser or inductive thinkers rather than deductive thinkers. They work from the inside out rather than the outside in. Course the point is to get our stories told isn’t it?

        If it means we write in the shower with a crayola on the back of a melmac dinner plate, so be it.

        But, 14.00 for an e-book seem a bit steep. I just saying.

        And, besides all that, its fun to talk about. 🙂

    • Reply

      Mary…. My wife and I fell pray to the “lure of staying up all night reading ” Friday night. Today didn’t start until almost noon. It hurt. My brain was mush all day. The sitting duck became a dead duck.

  5. Reply

    Curtis, I know for me I’m a pantser mainly for 2 reasons. I hate planning things. That applies in all aspects of my life. I’m more the “jump in and plod my way through” type. With stories though it goes deeper. If I plan to much, I have no more interest in writing the story. I write it to find out what happens.

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