I’m not much of a plotter. At all. Not even for these posts, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to those of you who read my posts regularly (and a big thank you to you for sticking it out with me).
Yep: I’m a total pantser, as in, I completely fly by the seat of my pants when I write books. For those who know me in real life, this might come as a surprise, because I’m a total anal organizer and lay all of my plans out before doing just about anything. But, for some reason, writing is different. Maybe it’s my brain’s way of letting go and taking a little holiday, but I just can’t outline in any sort of cohesive way. And I’ve tried. Recently. And it was a big failure. Let’s just leave it at that and move on.
So just to illustrate how much of a pantser I am, here’s what went down when I wrote my last project.
Stage 1 – The Idea. Joanne is getting into her shower, complaining to herself how she needs to shave her legs (TMI? Sorry). She gets a picture in her head of a scene where a teen girl tells a boy she won’t shave her legs for him. TAA DAA the idea for a YA book is born.
Stage 2 – The Execution. With nothing other than that one snippet of a scene in her head, Joanne sits down at her computer and starts writing. Note: There may be a few times in this stage when Joanne will enlist her husband, telling him she needs ‘plot assistance’, which means she is stuck and needs a sounding board for ideas. Husband usually suggests a car chase, a really inappropriate love scene or a flashy sword fight, Joanne disregards these ideas, but then, through talking out her story issues, is usually able to figure out where to go next.
Stage 3 – The End. 60,000 words (and a few months) later, there’s a completed book sitting on Joanne’s hard drive. Somehow, a plot happens. Sure, the book will need work and that may include some after-the-fact plot tweaking, but generally, the plot gets worked out through writing.
Stage 4 – The Outline. Now that the book is finished, Joanne is able to finally write an outline.
This may sound like a tongue-in-cheek account, but this is exactly how I write. So, what does this have to do with plotting? Er…not much, but this is how I work.
But wait, I think I can offer up something of substance. I recently discovered a new tool that I think is actually going to revolutionize how I write. I don’t know that it will make me a plotter, per se, but it will make my manuscripts more organized and keep ME more organized and not have to use eight-thousand stickie notes as I’m writing. You may have heard of this tool: Scrivener.
Now, I’m still new to Scrivener and I have yet to write a whole book on it beginning to end, but after discovering it recently, I did paste half a book into it and went from there and it really did make life a lot easier for me.
Not only is it a word processor, where you can actually write your book (or screenplay) but you can organize it into chapters and even scenes within chapters. You can have separate files for details (settings, character sketches, addresses, people’s names etc) which, for me, a person with a horrible memory, have already proven to be invaluable.
I’ve captured a few screenshots and put them below (click on each for a larger picture). Keep in mind, I’m a newb and don’t have full knowledge of the program yet, but what I’ve used so far, I’m loving. AND it was only forty bucks and change. Can’t beat that, right?*
(Please don’t judge the writing in this sample – I quickly threw it together as an illustration and isn’t representative of any of my actual works-in-progress 😯 )
*I am not being paid by the fine people at Scrivener to talk at such length about the program, but hey, if they want to send me a few bucks as a thank you for pimping their great product, I’m not going to stop them.
So what do you think about tools to help you plot? Do you use Scrivener? Story Boards? Color-coded stickies? How do you stay organized?