I've always been somewhere in the middle of the plotter-to-pantser spectrum, but no more. At least not for now.
I've done a deep, painful, belly-smacking dive into the pool of plotting and I'm pretty sure that's where I'll stay.
There were tears.
Notebooks were damaged in this endeavor. But I think I've come up for air a better writer.
Writers have their unique talents and phobias - I've got friends who nail structure but are still working on voice. Others who are voice-driven, but not sure where they're heading. Nobody's perfect. I've been thinking about polarity in general lately (I'm driven to see things in absolutes; my world is sometimes all-amazing, sometimes all-terrible) but I'm developing an affinity for the middle.
I wrote a while back about notecards; they're my go-to tool for scenes and imagery. I don't think I'll be giving them up any time soon, especially in those early stages of exploring and imagining. Plotting, in a more serious manner, is like gradually moving from the shallow end into the deep end, feeling the waters grow thicker around you.
I've followed a few conversations on twitter about preferred resources and am ready to throw two new favorites into the mix:
Writing Blockbuster Plots by Martha Alderson (of Plot Whisperer fame) and Randy Ingermanson's Writing Fiction for Dummies and his Snowflake Software
What they've taught me is to take some time and do the hard thinking up front. Expand those notecards from wisps of ideas into more fully fleshed-out scenes. Detail the actions. Add the emotional ups and downs. Graph the whole thing out to see if there are holes, and then work between the lines.
It's liberating to have a grid because the pieces still need to be woven together, pulled out of thin air and constructed, scene by scene, into the story only you can tell. The difference? I know where I'm going and the gas tank is full.
(Originally published May 22, 2016)