1. Brinda
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    Brinda New Member

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    Plotting a Plot--Yeah, I Went There

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Brinda, Dec 1, 2012.

    Hi everyone! I don't know if anyone else has this issue, but my planning is a little lacking especially when it comes to plot development. I tend to spend a lot of time developing my characters and my setting, and I set a few main points that I want to hit in the story and away I go. I like certain aspects of doing things this way--mostly that it cuts the planning time down so I can get writing faster--but it isn't a very realistic approach to story writing. So my question is, how does one plot a plot? I have actually, legitimately, tried before, but I never notice the problems with it until I start writing (problems like needing a whole new character and a secondary plot to tie everything together and flesh out the story--ugh, that one is annoying to discover half-way in). Is there a way to avoid that? How do you plan your story line?
     
  2. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like you're doing it fine. You don't have to plan everything. Your plot is what your characters do, and if you're good at characters, you're more than half way there. Just write your characters, follow what they do, and if you find yourself needing a new character halfway through, that's fine. Look at your whole first draft, keep what works, revise what doesn't.

    I think people plan too much because they want to make their first drafts perfect, but first drafts are never perfect. They're usually dreadful. Your first draft is for finding out what your story is about. Your real work is in the rewriting.

    So don't worry about plotting a plot. You'll find your plot as you write.
     
  3. Allison Currie
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    Allison Currie New Member

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    I have trouble trying to plan my plot as well, I have to just go with the flow. Though, this may be why I work best in collaborative RP... I have someone else to drive a plot along with me then. I like writing descriptive settings and nuances of the characters but the plot eludes me when I work solo.
     
  4. jid
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    jid Member

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    Mandatory comment saying I'm writing from my own experiences and am in no way claiming this is the one true way all writer's should follow.

    You can always google up "outlining a plot" or somesuch. What you're describing is the outline, and there's plenty of people who've been in your situation. I do agree with minstrel that you don't need to outline absolutely everything, but if you need to add a character and a new plot maybe your outline is too basic.

    Not sure how to help you getting it more detailed, but you can try to ask "how did that happen?" at every point of your outline to tie it in with the previous point. Say you got a guy who's at a bar. Then at the next point he's consoling a friend because his dog died. So how did he get from the point A to point B? Unless you're writing scifi, he didn't just teleport. I'm not saying you need to write down EVERYTHING. But I'm saying it helps if you know how everything happened, and having those "X happens" and "Y happens" written down in the outline with absolutely no link to each other, except for some hazy thought in your mind, is usually why you need extra plot or characters. Write that hazy thought down. It probably has horrible gaps, hopefully you'll notice them once its outlined.

    I plot a lot before the first draft for the sheer reason that an outline is easy to change structure-wise. With a first draft you have to change a lot of things, maybe the dialogue doesn't make sense if you move a chapter, or you refer to an earlier chapter that you just moved elsewhere. If you have a solid outline, the content editing will be a lot less painful. Plus, I don't remember getting a writer's block once after finishing the outline.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Totally agree with this. Most of my "blocks" occur precisely because I don't know what to write next. Planning helps eliminate this - it can often also help you stay excited about the story because you know what's coming up and you really wanna write it :D

    Now as for plotting a plot... I've only ever planned one story - my current novel - so I certainly do not speak from experience. For me, the problem resolved itself when I finally thought of how to close the story. What is the point of my story? To destroy Shadow Walker. How can I do that, since my character is immortal? I came up with the resolution to this - and my ending to my novel came naturally after that.

    Once I had my ending, planning became easier. I know now which scenes to cut because they do not serve the point of my novel. I know now what to add, what to change, what needs to happen in the novel etc. So I made a bullet point plan - any scenes I can think of went down in chronological order.

    Then the writing began, and things started changing. The only reason I ever finished is because I knew how the book must end, so I always steered the story back. The ending was my anchoring point, the most important, and the only unchanged aspect of the entire thing. I still had to flesh out subplots and characters afterwards though.

    In short - planning doesn't eliminate all needs to flesh out subplots and characters half-way through the writing process (but the advice is to leave the fleshing out til you have a first draft - the key really is in finishing the first draft). Get your ending and everything else will align itself to your ending. You can't go anywhere until you know where you are going after all!
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'll assume you have a sequence of events in mind to begin with, even if it's a small collection.

    Start with a simple question: What drives each event?

    when you find the answers to that, some of the events will not want to connect. So you add additional events and driving forces to nudg the story in the direction you want.

    At some points, you will find you are bridging events too quickly and easily. At that point you start adding events to deflect and obstruct the flow, and to add tension.

    The details about how you make these adjustments and observations is your personal approach to writing, You'll develop it over time.
     
  7. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    I couldn't of put it better , Cognito hit the nail right on the head.
     
  8. Brinda
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    Brinda New Member

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    Thanks everyone for your input. It really made me feel a lot better, and it was really useful!
     
  9. Venom.
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    Not wanting to be bogged down with planning, I used to just write. Now I've matured with my writing in many ways and I find that planning an entire synopsis, then deciphering it with outlined chapters, outlined scenes, and tidbits of emotions, fears and notes, allows me to keep the story rich while sticking to a template so as not to run out of steam. Like so:

    Chapter One

    Scene one:

    A. Event one
    B. Event two
    C. Event three
    D. Event Four

    Scene Two: Etc. Etc.
     
  10. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    While this may work for you, it's death for me. If I did this, I'd never write anything. This is exactly what would kill my desire to write. It bleeds the creativity out of the process and turns writing, IMO, into a paint-by-numbers exercise. I like to discover the story as I write, and that means that my first drafts tend to function as my outlines, only with a lot of meat on the bones.

    Oh well. There are no rules for writing everyone must follow.
     
  11. Adrian Michael Stafford
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    Adrian Michael Stafford New Member

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    I'm really glad you created this thread, Brinda. It's nice to know another author out there has some of the similar issues I've struggled with. And I think the advice that was posted here was really helpful. I've been working on a sci-fi/horror(ish) series for a few years now. I have a broad idea of where I want things to go and eventually end, but after only being about 35 pages in, I seem to be at a "block". It's coming, slowly but surely, but I've just struggled with getting to my destination in a more efficient way. I have written up a general synopsis of the entire series, though it still needs a few tweaks here and there and I'm sure it'll evolve a bit once I'm a bit closer to completion.
     

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