Back to Top

Tag Archives: plotters

I just got back last night from a weekend out of town, and had lots of fun reading over the RR postings from the last few days! Maybe because I’m just incurably nosy about other people’s lives, I always love reading about how other writers work, how they set up and stick to (or don’t stick to) their schedules, etc.

Like many writers, I am a pantser forced on occasion to be a plotter before my story gets away from me entirely! I start with a short outline, maybe one page (or a full synopsis, if it’s a proposal, though the finished product seldom resembles anything like this synopsis. A synopsis is a horrible thing anyway! Down with the synopsis!). So, I know who my main characters are going to be, where they will be at, and basically what they need to be doing. How to get them from Point A to Point B has gotten a bit easier over time, just from sheer practice. My first manuscript was a total mess, because I just had no clue what to do. Maybe it would be easier, and take less time, and make for a shorter, tighter story, if I could do things like character charts, collages, story boards, chapter-by-chapter outlines, like so many great authors do. But I just don’t have the patience, or the energy. I’m so tired after doing a detailed character outline that I have nothing left for the book, and I have to go take a nap! I just have to be patient with my pantser ways, I guess, and hope my characters help me out, as they so often do.

One question I get a lot, and one I like to ask other writers, is–where do you get your ideas? I always have to say I have no clue. Maybe a movie, another book (non-fiction is great for this), a title, a place, a character that moves in and won’t go away (this happens a lot with secondary characters). Once I got an idea from a piece of material I saw in a fabric store. Lack of ideas is never my problem, they float around in my head all the time. It’s the giving them shape that gives me some trouble. So I ask everyone here–where do you get your ideas??? How do you get started?

If you visit writers’ blogs, chances are good you’ve come across the terms Pantser and Plotter. Writers use these terms to distinguish the style of writing they do; pantsers write by the seat of their pants, with no idea where the story is going. Plotters, no surprise (in more ways than one!), know where their story is going before they put finger to keyboard.

I am a pantser. I know the characters, I know why they absolutely should not be together, and that I am going to force them together nonetheless, but I have no idea how I am going to get them there. Which is fine if you’re working on the story steadily, but what about if you take a break?

I just returned from a vacation to Portland, OR, where I drank coffee, shopped for books, and hung out with my best friend. Note that I did not write. So now I’m back in Brooklyn with REALITY staring me in the face. Not the laundry, that’s doable, or the dishes, or the fact that the Spouse DID NOT BUY MILK even though I have an issue with not enough milk in the house (see the coffee comment for a clue). All manageable, albeit with much gnashing of teeth.

No, the problem is that I have to pick up the threads of my story and start weaving them together again. And since I write by feel, that’s really, really hard. To put it in perspective, think about misplacing a book you’re in the middle of reading–you locate it about a week or so later, with relief, but you don’t remember exactly why it’s important she revenge her father, or he has trust issues, or whatever. If you’re reading the story, you can get past that. If you’re writing the darn thing? Yow. Hard work.

So today I am buying milk, doing laundry, and heading off again to collect my son from his grandmother’s house. Monday I launch myself back into writing, where I hope I can figure out where the heck I was going when I last touched the story.

So–what do you do to jumpstart a project? If you’re a writer, how do you convince yourself to write again after a break?

Start Me Up,

PS: I don’t know if you can read it all, but the album cover is a movie soundtrack featuring “Let’s Do It Again” by the Staple Singers. I just love the Staple Singers. Mavis Staples has one of the sexiest voices in the universe, and this song seemed appropriate.

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | 11 Replies

No, I’m not talking about the election–GO OBAMA!–really, I think we should all go back to normal (huge sighs of relief and gratitude)–and so I thought I’d share with you this fascinating blog post by Trish Jackson about right-handed or left-handed characteristics.

Now I come out consistently right-handed.  In popular writing terms right-handed people are pantsers, left-handed people are plotters. Some people are a mix but apparently I’m not, which surprised me because in some things I am very structured. But it may explain why to spend my time productively I must make lists otherwise I am all over the place.

I’ve bemoaned frequently the fact that I have trouble with plotting, typical of a right-handed person. At the moment I am struggling with a synopsis–this is the book where the hero sits on a cat (which is unharmed. Heck, I can’t afford to lose readers) and playing around with the “marriage in name only” trope which I’ve ranted about before.

I’m one chapter into the book and already the hero has changed professions, the heroine’s name has changed three times, and she’s lost her title and changed her marital status. Since the hero has changed professions I cannot use the title (of the book) I intended but the new one opens up all sorts of ripe possibilities. I don’t have a handle on the heroine yet, as you probably guessed, but the hero is adorable (despite sitting on the cat). His parents are both still alive and they live with him. He’s a man who’s pulled himself up by his bootstraps etc and he’s buying his way into gentility. I even had the bright idea of making him a Quaker,  but he’s really not the sort of guy who’d spend time sitting quietly.

So first I want to know if you took the test and if you’re right- or left-handed and whether the results surprised you. I guess the question is can you make yourself more one than the other. How? Any ideas?

Posted in Writing | Tagged , | 7 Replies
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By