Friday, March 19, 2010

A helpful tool for writers

Tip of the day: I was in PW's Children's Bookshelf yesterday! Scroll all the way down, and you'll see me.

When asked the question - are you a plotter or a panster, in the past I've mostly been a panster. I get a seed of an idea, or better yet, a few seeds, and a character to start with, and I jump in and write by the seat of my pants.

That's how I wrote I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME.
That's how I wrote FAR FROM YOU.
That's how I wrote IT'S RAINING CUPCAKES.

Generally I have a rough idea of where I'm going, but not always. With CUPCAKES, I really didn't know. Things just came to me as I wrote, and fortunately, it all worked out in the end.

I have some drawer novels, however, that didn't work out so well in the end. And now that I'm trying this FT author thing on for size, I feel like I can't waste precious time on books that may or may not work out in the end. And yet, I really don't like outlining. It takes all the fun out of it for me. I want the characters to lead me where they may, and to whisper secrets in my ear as I'm telling their story. That just isn't going to happen in an outline.

So I was really happy to find THIS POST by C.J. Omololu, author of the YA novel DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS. Here, she takes us through the 9 steps for plotting fiction.

This has changed my writing life! It allows me to figure out the important parts of my book but still leaves lots of room for stuff to happen as I'm writing.

A little over two months ago, I mapped out a story using this method and as soon as I finished writing out my 9 boxes, I went to work on a new verse novel. Last week, I finished it! And I LOVE IT!! Even better? My agent does too!!!

I don't think you necessarily have to do it before you start, but definitely after you've written the first third of the book, because it can help you make sure you have all necessary elements planned out. Just like anything in life, it's much easier to get to where you're going when you KNOW where you're going.

Have you tried this method? If not, do you think it might be something that could work for you?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Jen said...

I might have to test this out!!! I am like you and very much a panster, I've written a ton of ideas but they've never gone anywhere, not until I started my current WIP 2 weeks ago and already at 46K words! However if I need a method maybe I'll try this writing tool!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Thanks for the link. I'm an outliner, and I have to do characterizations for my key players before I start. But that's how I get a lot of my ideas for my novels. As my characterics reveal themselves in the exercises, I discover where the story should go. Makes things a lot easier in the long run.

Kate Fall said...

I've seen this before on Verla Kay's blue boards but I've never been able to make it work. Or I should say, I'm one of those people who can fill in the blanks creatively and fool myself into thinking a story is following a structure it isn't! But maybe I can get a better grip on it this time around.

Emily Marshall said...

First, congrats on finishing your book. Yay!!! Second, love the picture of you and your cupcakes. Double yay!!!

And thanks for sharing this tool. It's a really interesting idea. I'm definitely going to have to try it out. I've used a Act outline for the mystery book I'm working on now, and I have to say that I love it. It's so helpful in helping to plot out stuff, but not know all the details. Which is sounds like this does as well. But I love how it talks about boxes touching each other and how you need to connect each event. It gave me alot to think about.


DeenaML said...

The 9 boxes idea is a really good one! I feel like my general rambling outline of my WIP is working right now, and my biggest prob is adding TOO MANY elements, so the 9 boxes might help me realize that not everything fits in the novel... :)

Christina Farley said...

I like to plot. It's so helpful to make sure I torture my characters enough and hit all of my subplots in the right places. But I think there should be some room for the creative ideas to form and grow.