The letter P has arrived for those doing the A to Z Challenge, which means it’s time for Madeleine Maddocks’ Plotting blogfest. Pop over to her blog at Scribble and Edit and read how others answer this one question:
How do you Plot your novels?
Well, I used to be a total Pantser. The only goal I had in mind was a vague idea of the ending. I mean “good guy defeats the bad” idea. Yes, I typed my first story not knowing the full ending. Not only that, but I’d no clue about the full motives of either side let alone the Main Characters.
Looking back, I can see why it took me so long to polish it.
Now I’ve firmly planted myself in both Plotter and Pantser territories. My plotting has become more refined (I mean, come on now, it couldn’t do much worse). Now I go in making sure I know my way out. I’ve often got the chapters sorted too.
Each of my stories has taken a different process. With some, I’ve gone into it knowing exactly how each scene will play out that plotting is down to just keeping track of where I am. With others … it takes a bit of pondering until the full layout flows into place.
Most of my ideas are old and I forget how they were planned, so here’s how it went for my current WiP, Dark One’s Mistress, from idea to writing:
Playing Overlord2 on playstation. Mind wanders while thumbs mindlessly enslave and kill silly pixel people. Idea pops up on a bad guy who isn’t a bad guy but is perceived as a bad guy by some while technically doing bad guy things. (This is while I’m sucking souls outta said pixel people.)
*Note to brain: shelve under WTF?*
[A number of days later, same game.] Idea begins to grow.
*Note to brain: desist with storybooking attempt*
[Another day.] Give in while washing dishes.
*Initiating plotting sequence*
Wash more dishes and ponder on reasons for not-bad-bad-guy to be not-bad-bad-guy instead of bad-guy-bad-guy. Think on what he wants most and what he’d do to get it. True Main Character emerges. [Sleep.]
Make bed and think on how Main Character would get into situation and what she’d do to get out of it. Secondary characters surface. Twists in plot emerge. [Sleep and repeat.]
[A month after idea arose.] WRITE SOMETHING DOWN.
(This part is practically the same for every story I do)
Plan the first few chapters and half-plot the last few. Then, I’ll see if there are any logical connections that can be taken between the beginning and the end and add them. This is where all my pondering will solidify and my world-building sticks. While world building, I’ll check to see where things can go wrong for characters and add some.
But it doesn’t stop there. While I type the beginning chapters I’ve plotted, my Pantser side kicks in and throws the occasional wacky idea into the ring, this can be adding whole scenes or putting a twist on something I didn’t first think of or, occasionally, such as in the dialogue I’m writing, it’ll take a scenic detour while I’m aiming for one line. Sometimes it works, other times I have to throttle the little sub-muse until it surrenders.
No matter what, whether I Pants or I Plot, I always go in having a definite ending in mind.