The Plot Thickens…Into a Big Mess

Or you could call this when a pantser tries to plot. I used to be a pantser, or, really, a hybrid. With Promise and Purpose, I let the characters tell me the story, but I had an idea of where it was going and some of the major plot twists. I kept a notebook with scribbles so I wouldn’t forget my ideas when the time came.

With the third book of the series, and probably the rest, however, I had to plot. Switching teams was a big step for me because it terrified me, but it turned out well. I finished the book, which I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do if I knew everything that was going to happen. (I’ve learned that the author, at least this one, never knows everything.)

I’m currently working on a novella and for a long time it had really been beating me down. I’ve known the story since I got a few chapters into Promise, so I wasn’t worried about plotting or pantsing. I could tell you what happened in about five pages. But actually creating a story out of it has made me feel like I’ve done a round in the boxing ring. I tried to let the characters tell me, but with alternating POVs, I realized I needed a chapter outline. Then that wasn’t even working. I still kept getting tied up. Then I did this:

I had to blur it up so you didn’t see any spoilers. Also, note my reward for figuring this out. It’s gone now. It tasted yummy.

This is the second half of the book. It looks like a huge mess, I know. But you know what? That’s exactly what I needed. Although what’s on this page is basically spread out on three pages elsewhere in nice, linear format and narration, I guess I had to see the pieces all together and how they fed each other.

This mess is kind of a mash-up of earlier note-scribbling-pantsing days and my more recent foray into outlining. I don’t know. It works. And that’s what we writers have to do with every single story we sit down to write. As I’ve learned, a successful method for one book might not be the right one for the next.

Have you ever had to turn your ways upside-down and inside-out? Or have you been able to find a single tried-and-true method that works for you? Do you ever get pages of notes that look like mine? Or worse? I do have worse. Maybe we can have a blog fest for messiest notes and outlines.

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10 Responses to The Plot Thickens…Into a Big Mess

  1. chrissi says:

    That was so fun yesterday 🙂 I kind of miss the hash & rehash part of your writing process. So let it be known that your writing stress is my personal fun time. Not sure what that means, but anyway…

  2. Sheenah says:

    So far, my tried-and-true method has worked and I haven’t had to stray. My notes start out as a total mess and somehow manage to turn into a readable outline. Along the way there are many, many, many doodles of settings and characters. But I’m pretty sure your notes are messier than mine. So far.

  3. i’m still looking. feels elusive right now. still worrying about what everyone thinks. d***. hoping to get there soon but i can’t force it. d*** again.

  4. Dawn Embers says:

    I’m just random so haven’t come up with a tried and true method yet. Never know what I’ll be doing next.

  5. I love it! I have a notebook that looks very much like yours. I always say I’m a pantser, but I suppose I’m a hybrid too. It’s funny, today I was thinking that I know everything that happens in my WIP and maybe I should make an outline. It scared me, because then I felt like I would have to commit. Even though I know what’s going to happen and it would help to organize my thoughts, not to mention my desk.
    Anyway, I’m right there with you. I now also want a Reese’s pretty badly. 😉

  6. Kristie Cook says:

    Chrissi, it WAS fun! We’ll be doing it again soon. When I get back to book 3. 😀

  7. Kristie Cook says:

    Sheenah, It sounds like you have something that works for you. I wish I could doodle characters and settings. Stick figures just don’t inspire me.

  8. Kristie Cook says:

    Michelle, hang in there. Hopefully our back-and-forths this week have helped. {{{hugs}}}

  9. Kristie Cook says:

    Dawn, So your style is random – what a fun style! 😀 As long as it works, who cares?!

  10. Kristie Cook says:

    Stacey, Here’s how I talked myself into outlining: Have you ever read a book where you knew what was going to happen but you kept reading because you knew WHAT would happen, but not HOW? You don’t have to commit to an outline. Surprise scenes and dialog will still pop up. But if you’re having a problem keeping your thoughts straight, it might help. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t do anything one or the other. Method is a personal thing. But if that’s your fear and you really do want to outline, maybe you can overcome it. Holla if you want help!

What do you think? Leave a comment and let me know.