June 15, 2012

Such A Plotter

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I am such an plotter! I try to be a panster, I really do. It just doesn't work for me.

While writing my first book, Givin' Up The Ghost (which took me two years to name, by the way), I sped along, and I mean fast...for the first three chapters. Then I hit a wall - a really hard wall. I didn't know where I was going.

I was forced to plot and write an outline. I didn't like stopping the writing process to write an outline, but hey, I was stopped anyway, so why not?

I faced the same thing in BuNoWriMo with my second book, A Guilty Ghost Surprised. Three chapters into my 50,000 words, I hit another hard wall. Again, I didn't know where I was going.

Perhaps it's the mystery book thing - you have to give clues and red herrings and frame decide the character whodunnit. I simply don't know how anyone could write a mystery without plotting and outlining. Perhaps it's the investigative brain it takes to write mysteries?

So I took three days out of BuNoWriMo to write an outline, and now I'm sailing along again because I know where I'm going. And the outline was fun to create and gave me a feeling of great satisfaction and even relieved my stress over not knowing where I was going. Pathetic, I know.

Here's what I did:

  1. Research (yes I had to research online for cases similar to mine - except the real life version didn't have ghosts, as far as I know.)
  2. Every scene is numbered and double-spaced, so notes could be added easily as I go along.
  3. I began with a list of victims, suspects, witnesses, clues, theme, summary and twist.
  4. I wrote a list of necessary scenes, clues and red herrings.
  5. I put in days and dates (my first book became very confusing because I didn't pay attention to timing).
  6. I color-coded. I highlighted dates in yellow, clues and suspects in red, paranormal/ghostly activity in green, love scenes in blue and mishaps in pink so I could locate and reference information easily.
  7. I circle the numbered scenes as they're completed.
The outline is fourteen, double-spaced pages with nearly 4000 words. Of course I'm adding scenes and other episodes as I think of them, but I have all of the necessary information required to set up and solve the mystery. With paranormal and romance elements added, of course.

How do you work? Plotting Outliner or Panster? How do you design your outline?


Arlee Bird said...

Your system sounds excellent--very well organized. I never keep a formal outline but I will enter key points in my word doc and fill in around those. It's kind of like an outline but not as organized as what you do. I should probably lean in your direction.

Tossing It Out

Gwen Gardner said...

Lee, sometimes I do skip around a bit. If I know a scene requires a lot of action and I'm tired...then I'll write something easier.