These resources have helped this non-plotter plot in a non-defined, unconventional, non-plotting sort of way, and I must give my undying gratitude. I find that the longer I write, the more I write, the more I’m able to understand what people mean when they say craft. I think I had to write a few books without really studying scene arcs and the like before I could truly appreciate craft. It’s also nice to see that I actually do have elements the craft books talk about and that they came naturally. But I think that if you don’t have an actual work on which to use the advice, then reading them isn’t going to be a big help. I think that writing something first and then checking it the various checklists allows you to see your strengths and weaknesses — I’ve always had a problem with plot point sheets that give examples of books other than my own — I need to plug my own stuff in to truly understand it.

Could I say ‘craft’ one more time, you think? Maybe. *g*

So here’s my new process…I started using it about a third of the way through the WIP, and I’m really making headway with it. I see less editing/revision in my future, because even though it has slowed the actual writing down for the time being, I think once I finish with all the stuff I list below, I can fly through the rest of it. Because, really, I’m still not plotting. Also, these seem to work best for me, again, when I already have the start of a book. I’ve got to just run with the characters and the opening scenes I’ve created, and then I go back and fix them accordingly. Maybe it’s reinventing the wheel, but it’s the best way and it works for me.

1. Use PBW’s three questions for characters (I can’t get the individual link, so go under archives for January and scroll down to Saturday, January 15th- Entry Novel I: Imagine) Who are you? What do you want? What’s the worst thing I can do to you? These really help me get a feel for the characters and there motivation. Notice that these questions do not require much plotting — they are your skeleton.

2. Then I move into a Plot Paradigm that I got from Patricia Forte — she created it from a screenplay writing book, and it gives a list of 9 plot points to think about and hit (note: also a great revision tool and helpful to run your subplots through these points too.) Here are the points — if you want a more detailed list, give a yell.

1. Opening Scene (sets the mood)
2. Central Question (theme)
3. Who Wants What?
4. First Major Turning Point — Inciting Incident/things spin in a new direction.
5. Symbolic Scene Showing Character Growth: hint of h/h change as a result of change in direction.
6. Midpoint/ Point of No Return
7. Second Major Turning Point — The Black Moment
8. Start of the Finish – Climax
9. The End — who ends up with what or whom?

3. I like lists that detail Campells Hero’s Journey. It’s a simple way to think about your h/h and what they need to go through and accomplish to get to their goals.

4. Alison’s plotting board is awesome for those who like the visual aspect of a scene by scene plot. Also great for revisions and for non-plotters, since you can use it before and after you’ve already written the scene.

5. Beverly Brandt has a great revision workshop here which talks about breaking down your book scene by scene. She’s also created a great simple spreadsheet to track the progress on if you’re not using index card or sticky notes and she’ll email it to you if you ask. Also, she’s got a list of plot points to hit listed at the bottom of the workshop, in a similar vein to the plot paradigm I have listed above.

6. Holly Lisle has a great article on one-pass revisions, complete with some questions that you can use before you write the book or after plus a scene by scene checklists. Since I despise the revising process, doing it only once sounds great to me.

All of these have been great tools for me. I find myself throwing them all together, using pieces of one or the other until I’ve found a method that’s helping me. It’ll be interesting to see how it all works for me when I start the next book from scratch, since I’m currently using these for a WIP that I was about 100 pages into and needed major revising.

Steph T.