I just noticed that a book that has helped me a lot in organizing a couple of recalcitrant manuscripts is on sale today for only 99c — a book I paid full price for! *g* It’s Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing.
I admit, I can’t tell you yet whether her method works to create more successful books, since I have only applied it to a couple of books that are still WIPs, including the Pendragon Chronicle prequel that I’m working on right now, Ygerna. But what I can tell you is that when I dug the notes and scenes I had written a while back out again and applied Libbie’s plotting method to them, I finally had the feeling that I had a story that made sense and that I could finally finish.
One of the points she makes that has helped me the most is her emphasis on the main character’s flaw, and how integral that should be to the plot as a whole. I’ve created plenty of damaged and flawed characters in my time, but her plot structure can give you a great tool for building that more directly into the plot. In any case, her main plot points resonate with me as a writer more than a lot of of other writing advice out there. Here is her basic plot structure, so you can see if it might make sense for you:
– Opening Scene
– Inciting Event
– Character Realizes External Goal
– Display of Flaw
– Drive for Goal
– Antagonist Revealed
– Goal Thwarted
– Revisiting Flaw
– Repeat above several time (drive for goal, antagonist / goal thwarted)
– Aid from Ally
– Character Change
– Girding the Loins
– “Death” / Overcoming Flaw
Another thing I like about this structure is that it doesn’t insist that the main goal is clear right from the beginning. Not only that, it admits that the main goal could well be tied to the character’s flaw — which will eventually have to be overcome. It reminds me of another piece of writing advice that I’ve been internalizing for a long time now: remember to distinguish between what your main character wants and what she needs.
So if any of this resonates with you as a writer, and you feel like you could use some help in plotting your books faster, grab this book for under a buck while you can. I have no idea how long this sale will be going on, since it’s not mine. 🙂