So one of the big writing discussions is the pantsing versus plotting debate. Essentially, there is a debate between whether it’s better to discover what you’re writing as you write, to wander through the woods without a map, or if it’s better to track your progress, to plan your way though every nook and cranny. Personally, I see this as a spectrum. Personally, I believe that both of these are perfectly valid ways to approach writing. I used to be very much on the pantsing end, but I found that plotting worked much better for me.
So here, I will share with you how I personally go about plotting. The intention here is not to convince you to plot or to say it’s the right way to do it, I’m just showing you how I personally plotted through the Project ❤
The Project grew out of an idea—superheroes–and although it was an alternate version of our world and not a secondary world, I did find that worldbuilding was entirely necessary. I focused on two main aspects: how do the superpowers work genetically speaking, and how do the entities that run the superhero programs function and find the people eligible. My novel aesthetics, which I was tagged to do on Twitter, is more related to worldbuilding than anything else:
I realized that I had to start with worldbuilding because I didn’t know how to proceed if I didn’t know why the characters were in the situation in which they were, how they had gotten there, or why they were doing what they were doing (or how they were doing what they were doing). I needed a world before I was able to populate it. The establishment existed before the specific people did.
I then spent NaNoWriMo developing the characters who lived in the world. Personally, I have to figure out the characters before I can make the plot work. I use a diamond-style character development form that I found online a few years ago (spine, supporting trait, fatal flaw, and shadow) as well as interviews for the characters to get to know them and begin to understand how their arcs will develop.
Plot / Structure
This is the part where things get a little complicated/detail-oriented. I started by figuring out what my inciting incident and my conflict are. These are the two things that drive the whole story for me.
Then, I start to figure out my outline using the 27-chapter, 9-block, 3-act structure that I found through Katytastic. Her video explanation, her explanation by example, and a blogger’s explanation are all great resources (and clickable, too!). I sometimes do this backwards, so I can see what must absolutely happen for the story to continue forth. If I have difficulties, I do a cause-and-effect outline instead, starting as early as I must to get the ball rolling.
Once I have this outline, I expand upon it through Scapple, which is a mind-mapping software by the people who made Scrivener. I shared this image a bit ago on Twitter, which is essentially when my piece ends up looking like once all the details are filled in:
I also use this stage to strengthen the connections between individual events and to fill in detail-related plotholes where I am able. This is a very informal process and usually has some stream-of-consciousness notes involved, especially notes to self for foreshadowing possibilities.
And THEN… I do scene cards, which are index cards devoted to each separate scene in the entire thing. I shared a picture of the first 6 chapters on Twitter as well:
On the blank side, I write a brief note to myself of what the scene is. On the back, I write three things: the purpose of the scene (does it introduce character, proof-of-concept, or a clue; does it develop the characters; does it move the plot forward?), the conflict (in my opinion, every scene should have a conflict, even if it’s really small), and the endpoint or resolution (essentially, in what state do the characters end up?).
And then I finally, finally get to start writing. Officially, the writing will begin next week if all goes well. I’ll keep you updated!
I hope this was interesting for you~
Are you a pantser or a plotter or somewhere in-between?
What do you do to get know your characters?
Have you tried/used any of my strategies?
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