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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Organic Plotting

By Charity Tahmaseb

If you asked me a few months back whether I’m a plotter or a pantzer, I would’ve have answered like Terry. I don’t plot. Then I joined a group of writers for discussions on craft and the topic came up of how we prepare to write.

Now, I definitely dive in and write a few scenes. It’s like flirting and dating. And since I’m currently not being paid to write novels, I need to look at the long term. Do I love these characters enough that the journey is worth the effort, even if the destination ultimately doesn’t end in a contract?

Once I get I yes, I’m off and running.

Sort of.

Because there are the character bios. And then the major plot points. After that? Well, then I do scene cards for every scene I can think of. And then I never look at them again. Somewhere in there, I’ll make a collage, a soundtrack, and maybe take a stab at a working outline.

Have I mentioned yet that I don’t think of any of this as plotting? But apparently others do. So much so, that I was hesitant about mentioning how I take my characters shopping at Target.

I have a friend who outlines in an Excel spreadsheet, both on-stage scenes and behind-the-scenes activities. I think he color codes and uses a white board and Post-it notes. He doesn’t move on until all the activities in a single, designated step are complete to his satisfaction.

Now that’s plotting. None of what I do is very linear. For me, it’s more like a giant puzzle and if I get stuck on one part, I’ll work on something else. I’ll write a scene or make a playlist for the prom my YA characters are attending.

For me, there isn’t a story problem I can’t solve without a little time and a little compost.

Organic plotting. I like it.


At 2:51 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Charity--your system seems like a great one to me. You're obviously getting into your story's world on so many different levels, and that helps make it real.

I like the idea of posters, sticky notes, color-coding, etc. Sounds like a great incentive to go to the office supply store, yippee! I don't know whether I'd ever use any of that stuff, but I love to shop for it.

About a third of the way through my last project I drew up a detailed outline of the story so far, and I promised myself I'd keep it filled in, mostly so I could keep track of what I was doing. I spent hours creating that dang thing, hours I could have spent writing (although that was the point--procrastination requires time and effort, too). And I never did keep it up.

Towards the end, when I was well and truly lost (as I usually am), I drew up a simple calendar of scenes and events. Voila! I'm going to try the calendar strategy next time, too. Maybe I'll need to go shopping for some cool stuff to stick on my calendar...

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

The style of plotting every scene gives me neck movements! For me, that would take all the fun out of it, and it would spoil those subconscious connections that happen while I'm writing. But your idea of character interviews and collages and ideas for scenes is more appealing. I do a version of that, but it is all on the computer. But my way does give me that pesky question, "What happens next?"


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