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Friday, July 29, 2016

Hey look! A plotting method I can use as a non-plotter! (via: @ryanqnorth 's tumblr: what are the haps)

(I arbitrarily used 25 plot points because it seemed like a good number and it fit on one side of the page)

I had to scroll for what felt like days (it was really like five minutes, and that only because I got distracted) to find this post: what are the haps but it's literally the best writing tip I've seen in ages. I'm not a plotter. That is, I don't plot things out ahead of time*, because then I feel like I've already written the book and it makes it really hard to actually do the writing--I hate writing the same thing over. It's why my drafts tend to change a whole lot one to the next: there has to be something new and it has to do something else if I'm going to get through a whole new draft of a whole book.

But Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics fame has this awesome idea of multi-plotting that I've used twice now in the few weeks since he posted about it during his Tumblr Q&A, and it's the opposite of killing the story. AND it's simple, so that makes it better.

First, you plot the story. (I do it super-loosely because this is just a starting point)

Then you do it again, doing things differently.

Then you do it three more times, doing it all differently each time.

Then you take the best parts for the book itself, and when you get stuck, go back to the parts you didn't use yet to figure out what to do next. (I've been highlighting the parts I think I'll use, and sort of numbering them or drawing lines between them so that I remember what order I intended them to go in.)

Here's what I like best about it: it's actually an exercise in possibilities, rather than locking-in.

Most outlines feel too...fixed. This Is The Way This Will Happen. Full stop. But this sort of thing basically forces you (I mean ME) to come up with other things that could happen. It becomes a brainstorming thing, and it's fun, and it makes for much better ideas. And it highlights what your brain thinks are the most important things for the book to have, because they'll come up more than once in the intentionally different plots!

For BEACON, most of the stuff I decided to use came from the third and fifth plots I came up with. Most of the first one, except the best bits, is going to get left behind, because running on the first plot is what got me stuck to begin with. For FIX AND FIND, it's mostly the third plot, with a pretty even sampling of the other four to fill the gaps.

And best of all, it's FUN, it's EASY, and when it's all on one page, there's not space for fixing the details or nailing down the story, but there's lots of possibility and open options, which is exactly what I need for figuring out a story!

Go try it, pantsers!




NOTES:

*I will, however, plot things out afterward--I'll write the book, THEN plot it, because it's a hell of a lot easier to see where the holes are in a page of scene-descriptions than in a whole novel that covers your whole floor if you spread it out!

PS: you can totally tell which blog posts I do in the browser (the ones with pictures and tags) and which I do on my phone just to get an idea out (the ones without, but much faster to post and get into the world bc the blogger site takes FOREVER to load most days).

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