Thursday, October 7, 2010

Got Plot?

NaNoWriMo. I'm committed. I'm adding writing buddies and discussing plans. I have an idea of what I want to write, which is more than I had my first time around, but I don't have an outline. Yet!

Once upon a time I was a pantser. I'd dive into a story with great character ideas and no clue as to what those characters were going to do, other than fight evil and live happily ever after. It didn't work out. Without fail I would hit a wall around 30k words and be unable to finish the story. A few months after my first NaNo I joined Romance Writers of America, and I learned a lot more about the craft of writing. I've read articles and books, I've taken online workshops, I've been to conferences, and I learned that if I want to push past that 30k block, I need to sit my butt down and plot out the story from beginning to end. That way if I do get stuck I can skip ahead to the next step and come back to the problem later.

It started with the note card exercise, which I learned from a NaNo forum. You take 10 index cards, and write your opening scene on the first one and your ending on the last. Then you write the steps that need to happen to get from the beginning to the end on the cards in between. Need more scenes? Add more cards. It's quick, it's simple, and it can be very helpful in figuring out the "and then what happens?" of your story.

Next came writing software. I use WriteWayPro, and I love it. But I use it mainly for plotting and for character information (I adore the fact that you can add a picture in your character bios, I've spent many hours casting characters in the Blood, Smoke and Mirrors universe). WriteWay has a great outline feature, but it's a blank slate. Staring at the empty outline can be as intimidating as staring at an empty page.

Enter the next step in my writing evolution: the plot map. This article was very helpful to me, and it's a great explanation of how to pace a story using the example of a movie that I dig (While You Were Sleeping). It draws from Vogler's book The Writer's Journey; I'm reading it at the moment. Slowly. Mostly while on lunch break at my Shiny New Job. Hypothetically I'm also reading the copy of Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces that Diana let me borrow several months ago...have I mentioned lately how hugenormous my TBR bookcase is? Seriously. Gigantic.

Anyway, by these powers combined I have conquered plotting, muahaha! Okay, maybe not so much. My process is always evolving. I love buying more craft books and taking new online workshops. Obviously I have room to grow as a writer (or so the intarwebs tell me)(apparently I made someone want to throw their Kindle against a wall)(I in no way condone violence against Kindles). So, are you a plotter? Are there any methods that you love? Or are you panster all the way, and think I'm trying to convert you to the dark side?

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's That Time Again

No, not time for the Wheel of Morality. Time for National Novel Writing Month. Thirty days, 50k words, made of awesome. w00t! NaNo starts November 1st, but I'm already planning what I'm going to write. (Planning is allowed, per the rules. Actual writing is not.)

If you've been following along, you know that Blood, Smoke and Mirrors was my first NaNo novel. In fact, there's an article about it on the NaNo site (so cool!)(yes I'm a geek). I've done NaNo every year since. I haven't won every year, but I've attempted it. My second year I started Harrison's book, and got about halfway to the 50k finish line with it. So yes, ladies, there are plans for his very own book. One day...but before I can get there, Cat has some issues with him that she needs resolved. And thus, this year's NaNo will be Cat's second book.

But Robyn, you say, didn't you already start that book? I did, and I'm tossing it. New, fresh start. It didn't get past Chapter 2, due to a variety of thingies and problems and drama and just general Grr! Argh! There were a few sad panda tears. But I'm better now (and employed again, which is amazing for many reasons, and will save us from having to live in a van down by the river).

So now I ask you, my fellow authors: Who will stand with me? NaNoWriMo glory awaits us! No plot? No problem! You can always sleep in December...