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.