Ready to plot a novel? Are you a pantser or a plotter? If you are new to the writing community, let me explain what the heck I’m talking about. Usually writers fall in one of three--no make that FOUR categories:
1) PLOTTER: Outlines are the order of the day! That includes characters, beats and everything in between. That could also include timelines and settings.
2) PANTSER: Basically, stream of conscious writing with no map or a minimal outline.
3) DICTATION: Some writers use Dragon software or some other dictation set up. It didn't work for me at first because I love the tactile experience of creating. (I have a mechanical keyboard that lights up! Woo hoo!) But I’ve learned to make it work.
4) HYBRID: This writer is a combination of any of these. This is the method I have chosen. I actually do all four.
You might have to try a few of these before you perfect your process. Don't be afraid to try something new!
Here's a picture of my current writing process.
1. Deliver a big prologue and first chapter. A good hook is so important. I usually type this.
2. Keep up the pace! Distribute good hooks throughout the book. I dictate large portions or whole chapters, then go back into the chapter and fluff it out with important details.
3. I keep my eyes on the prize. I jot down any mysteries that have to be solved by the end of the book. (Keep in mind I write in a series and it is important to lead readers to the next book. However you never want readers to feel cheated her feel as if they didn't get the primary question answered.)
A few more goodies from my desk.
Before I get started, I do these things.
1. Decide on my ghost and work up a spellbinding prologue to introduce them. I write first person point of view except my prologues which are most often in third person.
2. Write one or two sentences for the first 3 to 4 chapters. Example: Carrie Joe wants to skydive. Ashland refuses to go.
During the process, I do these things:
3. After I write my chapter, I go back to the beginning of the chapter and fill in the blanks. I add descriptions, dialogue, and of course Easter eggs. Also read the chapter aloud.
4. Record a few bullet points in my "after" outline. I add to my after outline after every chapter and I use it as a road map for the next book. This helps me when/if I go to another book.
5. Write regularly. Practice, practice, practice.
Points to consider when plotting:
– Your subconscious is trustworthy. It won't let you down if you follow it. Many times I wondered what to do about a plot problem. When I got there the answer came. As they say, “Trust emergence!"
— Know the tropes for your genre. Hit those tropes but don't be afraid to think outside of the box.
– Consume what you want to write. Know what's happening in your genre. Read within your genre! Even if it's only samples or blurbs.
*Bonus tip! If you get stuck here’s something that helps me. I think like a movie producer and not a novelist. I get into the scene and tell the story the way it I would want it to be shown on the big screen. As weird as that sounds it helps me gain momentum and push through.
Let me end this by saying that the process will be different for you. That's not a copout – it's the truth. I promise you, if you stick with it you'll find methods that work for you and that's all part of the fun.
Writing a novel is a journey of self exploration. You should enjoy it, embrace it because it's all about you, Brave Author.
You can do this!