1. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

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    not a pro, yet very curious

    how to "plot" for the emotional writer?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ruskaya, Mar 21, 2020.

    how to come up with a plot is something that has been extensively discussed everywhere, in fact there are many books, blog posts, website pages, etc., dedicated to that very issue . . . and yet, I found that none has quite worked for me.

    I am a get-in-the-mood writer, for lack of a better description. When I get in a certain mood I find a voice and follow that voice into writing. The problem with that is I can't get from that mood into a clear story-long plot. The way "how to write a plot" are explained seem too logical for my kind of writing, and I find it difficult to mediated between the two. Any idea or experience you can spare on how to do that?

    any advice of any kind will be much appreciated :supersmile:
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Hi there! Welcome to the forum, by the way. I'm one of the moderators here.

    I find your question interesting. It's kind of how I feel about writing. I did manage to finish a novel, eventually.

    I just sat down one day and started writing. But I didn't start at the beginning of my story. Instead, I started by writing a scene I had strongly envisioned. The scene was just between two characters, and it was a few moments that they spent together, near the start of their relationship. I found it very easy (and fun) to write. And it got me started.

    The scene allowed me to get a feel for the two characters and how they interacted. The story grew from there ...in both directions. It got changed a bit in the final version as well, but it's essentially the same scene. It helped me get a handle on these characters, and get a better idea of how they'd got to that point and where they were going next.

    I'd say just write any scene you've strongly envisioned. Don't wait till you have an entire story plotted out, if that's not how you work. Just start with the emotional stuff. You'll get there!

    By the way, with my Mod hat on here, please do take the time to read these two links. They'll get you off to a good start here on the forum. And if you have any difficulties getting settled, don't hesitate to contact me and I'll try to help. :)

    New Member Quick Start

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    Cheers, Jan
     
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  3. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Sounds like you're a discovery writer, rather than an outliner.

    I'm a hardcore outliner, myself - I literally can't discovery write even if I try - so I can't speak from personal experience. However, my understanding is that discovery writers tend to do everything backwards from our perspective: They don't plan ahead, creating the story intuitively, but in return they have to make more extensive editing and rewriting after the first draft is finished.

    It's possible you need to write your story first, then take a step back and try to figure out if the plot makes sense, and adjust it as needed.
     
  4. ruskaya

    ruskaya Contributor Contributor

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    thank you both for the advice. I will start with whatever scene comes to mind: if not needed down the line, I figured those can still help me figure out who the characters are and start getting an idea what the story is about. I realize that I still crave for plotting as in other short stories I wrote (a total of just two), I ended up not knowing what to do with the characters. For fantasy and science fiction I find it easier to write a plot although I fear at times it might unconsciously be sourced from scenes I have read or watched and find satisfying :eek: but for a fiction story I was writing about the life of a young girl it is a lot more difficult if the idea is not strong enough and I have a clear vision of where the story is going. More of a reason to suspect my fantasy/sci-fi plotting is driven by already-seen scenes. Do you get this feeling? what do you do?

    and Jannert, thanks for the links to the forum rules and guide.
     
  5. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    For me an outline isn't something set in stone, it's just a way of organizing your thoughts. I still get my ideas through intuition and inspiration, and then I need to work on them and sweat out a story idea that can use them without killing them. So the outline needs to be very responsive to changes as i go. The real reason for it is to make sure you actually create a decent story structure, and so as you come up with more ideas you can check your outline and see how they affect everything else. Example, if you come up with a new character or scene and you don't realize how that will change scenes you've already written. If you have an outline you can check all that quickly.

    But the outline is never anything like a rigid structure that I must follow. It follows the changes in my story idea as they occur to me.
     
  6. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Welcome, @ruskaya. There is no end of contention between planners and "pantsers", those who like me, and also maybe you, write by the seat of their pants. I spent decades doing technical writing, so I very much know how to outline, and in fact when doing technical writing, I will write the outline as chapter and subchapter (and sometimes sub-sub-sub-chapter headings) then go along and fill in the text. I know where I am going and how I am going to get there. And my technical writing has a very good reputation for clarity, conciseness and readability, partly because the outline keeps me on subject, not jumping back and forth.

    I feel that if I used that approach to my fiction, however, it would have too technical a feel. Maybe good prose, but not alive, because I always knew what came next. And the reader will rapidly figure that out also.

    My first book was 240K words, quite a long book, with a complicated plot. Twists and turns just suggested themselves, I took the turn and often spent a good bit of time wondering how that situation was going to resolve itself. As a result, the reader is hooked the same way that I, the writer, was. I am working on a sequel, about half done, and I had to find a way to get a very interesting character from Italy to the Middle East, 2000 years ago. She was a very interesting character, the major female character in the first book, and I did not want her sitting out the Roman invasion of Mesopotamia tending to her children, while her husband went back "under the eagles" with his old legion. So I arranged a kidnapping, very plausible and very traumatic, to get her there. Now the kidnapper has to use her to some purpose, and he admitted in that last chapter that he did not for sure what to do with her and her friend. Yet that resolution is critical to the story. And having been in that situation before in my first story, I know my characters will tell me the secret, but I have to keep writing to get it.

    Anyway, good luck! There is no wasted writing. Your short vignettes will sharpen your skills, even if they go nowhere. And remember, the hardest sentence to write in your book is the first one, and the second hardest is the last one!
     
  7. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    This is not necessarily a bad thing, and technically it's how we all learn to tell stories in the first place: By emulating things we like. The trick is to have so many influences it all sorta blends together, so nothing you write is entirely taken from another given story.

    You could try considering what themes you're working with. Being conscious of your thematic concept and statement is not strictly speaking necessary for telling a story, since stories tend to develop themes regardless. But I find that knowing my theme helps me get a very clear idea of what sort of story I'm telling and where it should be going, resulting in a stronger and more consistent narrative.
     
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  8. shiba0000

    shiba0000 Member

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    Make lore notes!
    If you think of a good idea as a result of experiencing life, put it on a google doc or something before you forget it. You can always organize and revise them later.

    As for plots, I just think of what characters want, how they plan to achieve it, and how they will conflict with each other and the world.
     
  9. StarScribe

    StarScribe New Member

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    I think I do both things - I tend to get an intuitive concept, whether for a scene or an entire book, a concept, a theme, a character, perhaps even a title, then let that attract associations until I feel ready to think of it as an embryonic book. At that point, I like to stop and do a ton of planning because if there's one thing I hate, it's a story with poor continuity. :(
     
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  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    There is no tried-and-true method that works for everybody. The one thing to keep in mind, however, is that if the story you're trying to write isn't working—you've become stuck and can't move on, or you can't get going in the first place, or your story doesn't have the sparkle you hoped it would—then it makes sense to try a different approach.

    Creative writing, done on your own (outside of assignments, etc), is one of the most risk-free activities you can engage in. You can make tons of mistakes, which will teach you a lot about solving problems, and nobody else will ever know. Just keep trying till you find an approach that works for you.

    If you're a plotter who can't bring your meticulously-planned story to life, try pantsing some of it. Give your characters room to breathe. Let them say what 'they' would say if they were real people, even if it throws a spanner into your plot. Throw a new character into the mix. Make an event turn out differently from how you'd planned it to. You can adjust for that—and it won't be hard, because you'll suddenly be enthusiastic about your story again.

    If you're a pantser who creates great characters then doesn't know what to do with them, try a bit of plotting. Even if it's just plotting the next chapter or scene. Figure out what happens next to those characters...and figure out WHY.

    Make some NEW mistakes! Don't just get into a rut and keep repeating the old mantras. I can't work to an outline. I must work to an outline. In order for things to change, you have to be willing to change them. Sooner or later, you'll hit that sweet spot, and you'll get there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020
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