Tag Archives: plotting

String of Pearls: An Alternative Way to Create a Story – via creativescreenwriting

I stumbled across this post today, and I liked it so much, I have to share:

String of Pearls: An Alternative Way to Create a Story

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I regard myself as a “puzzler” rather than a pantser or a plotter. And I find this “string of pearls” description very helpful for the way I work. I tend to jump back and forth a lot in my WIPs — and the scenes I write first are probably the “pearls.”

Even if they get deleted in the final draft. *g*

Brainstorming new Pendragon novel, more cover art, and progress on time travel

I’ve been quite busy this week. Not only am I still working on revisions on Chameleon in a Mirror, my Restoration time travel starring Aphra Behn, I have also started brainstorming a new novel in the Pendragon Chronicles, tentatively entitled A Wasted Land. I want to share with you the artwork I splurged and bought for the novel, by the incredibly talented Teresa Yeh:

A Wasted Land

Of course, researching, brainstorming and outlining is difficult to quantify, especially if you’re doing it on scrap paper, like I am. (I’ve never become a convert to index cards, as many people are.) But I do have about twenty pages of hand-written notes, questions I’ve asked myself using various plotting strategies. The one that has given me the most success for A Wasted Land so far has been Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat. With other projects, however, other structures and strategies have proved more successful. Sometimes it’s the hero’s journey, sometimes it’s character questions, sometimes it’s the research itself that will give me the plot. My strategy is to throw lots and lots of stuff at my idea and see what will stick.

Anyway, I now have a basic structure consisting of both an internal conflict plot and an external conflict plot. I’m certainly not ready to write yet, though (although I have started jotting down notes for scenes that occurred to me). But I still have to throw a bit more at it until I have a better handle on both the plot and the characters.

That’s taken up a lot of my time this week, but I’ve also been moving forward with Chameleon in a Mirror. I’m up to chapter 23 on the revisions. At this pace, I should be able to finish by the end of the week. I’ve become a total slacker on my actual publication projects, however. I have this list of things that are ready or almost ready to go up on Amazon, Smashwords and Draft2Digital — and I did none of them this week. I think next week I need to take another day off from writing for the business side of things.

Just out of curiosity, what kind of pre-writing do other people do — if at all?

By Popular Demand: Pantsers, Plotters, and — Puzzlers!

Over on Karen Huber’s blog a few days back, I mentioned a term I snapped up somewhere, an alternative to the two writing poles of plotters and pantsers — the puzzler. Several people in the comments were quite enthusiastic about the term, so I figure it just might deserve a blog post of it’s own, rather than a mention hidden in some comments somewhere.

I always knew I was more of a plotter than a pantser. Some of my writer friends can take a couple of prompts and immediately start writing a story. I can write stories from prompts too, many of my stories have been written that way, but I just can’t do the “immediate” part. I have to brainstorm and play with ideas first. More than anything else, I need to know the ending before I start. If I don’t, I invariably get bogged down somewhere in the middle and don’t know where to go from whatever corner I wrote myself into.

At the same time, however, plotting out every single chapter and every single plot twist before I start writing is nearly as foreign to my nature as spontaneously writing a complete story from a single first line. There are a couple of short stories I’ve written that I plotted out almost completely before writing them, most notably “Mars: A Traveler’s Guide.” That was necessary for that story, because each of the disasters had to follow the one preceding it, and the whole arc had to have a very strong, increasing sense of inevitability.

But plotting every single scene like that for a whole novel? It would drive me crazy.

My usual process starts with brainstorming basic plot, characters and setting, and doing the initial research. (I rarely write anything that doesn’t require research.) As I brainstorm, I jot down ideas for potential scenes, which I might start organizing in some kind of orderly fashion. But before I can get from the beginning to the end, one or another of these scenes I’m brainstorming grabs me, and I have to start writing it. And then another, and another. While I’m writing these random scenes, I also start getting to know my characters better, which gives me a better idea of the kinds of complications that would fit their personalities. And so I start jumping backwards and forwards and filling in the blanks, puzzling out the plot as I go.

To a plotter, the process probably sounds very random. But neither am I writing by the seat of my pants. I can’t even start without a bunch of notes on characters and scenes and plot arc and usually a fair amount of research.

I cannot claim to have come up with the term, but when I googled it to try to find the brilliant originator, all I found were other writers who also heard the term “puzzler” at some point or another and happily adopted it as their own. Me too. 🙂

Anyway, in my own puzzling way, I got another 5000 words on Chameleon in a Mirror completed, despite various other projects. (Although, to be perfectly honest, not so puzzling this time around, since it’s a rewrite from scratch.) Chameleon is now coming in at 86,000 words, of a projected 100,000. Not much more to go! Maybe with the finish line in sight, I can pick up the pace a bit and finish by the end of the month. That would be a great new goal. 🙂