Just a short note today on plotting. I’ve got a few novels (seven complete) under my belt, and I’ve tried the whole range of styles from seat-of-the-pants to uber-plotted. This time, I’m trying once again to find a balance.
Thanks to Cheryl Wyatt, author of five romance novels published by Steeple Hill (the inspirational arm of Harlequin), for a series of blog posts she wrote awhile back on her hybrid style she calls plotstorming. If you’re looking for a happy medium, check out these posts, using her novel Ready Made Family as an example:
1. Preparing for a Writing Spree
2. Character Chart
3. Character Chart Example
4. Scene Index Sample
This method is working for me right now, but I’m only 13,000 words into the novel. I’ll have to reserve final judgment for a few months!
What’s your favorite plotting style?
Heidi Main says
Val, Cheryl has an interesting take on things – I'll look into it! Thanks for the post – Heidi
Thank you for posting this!!
Thanks for coming by, Tammy and Heidi. It was fun going through this serie again because I'd read the novel she uses for a sample in between the first time I saw this post and now. Hope you find something useful in there, too.
Bonne Friesen says
I've only done one novel with it, but the balance of planning vs. letting the muse play in Holly Lisle's course really worked for me. I'm interested to look at what you've linked here too, though.
Bonne, I'm keeping a list of threads and 'toys on the floor' on a sheet of paper as I go. I see Cheryl's method as fitting with Holly's in many ways. Do some basic prep, get to know your characters, plan out the highlights (candy bar scenes) and then writing toward them. What Cheryl's method really helps me with (I hope!) is getting the romance balanced into the plot.
I think plotting is my biggest problem, but that might only be because I've yet to uncover the real issue! I tried pantsing. Didn't like it. Felt too out of control and wound up with a mess at the end. I've tried plotting. Full story outline and scene by scene layout. Not crazy about it. Too structured. Found myself tinkering with the outline and not actually writing the story.
I'm somewhere in the middle now, leaning more toward plotting. I've got a partial outline and I've begun to write. As things change during the writing, I'll revise the partial outline. When I get near the end of the outline, I'll stop writing and work on the outline. Then, I'll start writing again. I plan to iterate in this way until the first draft is complete. Hoping this works for me.
Sounds roughly like what I'm doing, Patricia. I've got the main highlights written down and more detail heading into the first one. I guess it's like a headlights-at-night approach as I try to plan the next few scenes while keeping in mind my destination.