Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hip Deep in Plot

One of the things that I love about writing is that there's always something new to learn. I'm not talking about research--though that definitely qualifies!--but about the process of writing and about myself. There's an old adage that says, "The older you get, the less you know." It should really be phrased, "The older you get, the more you realize there is to learn."

I like that writing is an organic, living process for me. That the way I write this book won't be exactly the same as the way I write the next book. I like that I started this journey a few years ago with assumptions about what it meant to write a book and what it meant to be a writer and that, for the most part, I've had to toss those assumptions out on their ear or give up being a writer.

You know the part I really like? That each and every one of us does things differently. That there are no rules when it comes to how you write. That there is no way to do it wrong. The only criteria for success is whether you meet whatever personal goal you set for yourself, be it finishing a book, submitting to an agent or editor, or getting a contract. I'm the only one who can decide if I'm successful. If you've never worked in a highly structured, highly managed environment (e.g. for a big corporation), you may not understand just how freeing (and sometimes terrifying) that really is.

(Great, now I've got, I am the very model of a modern Major-General, running through my head. Funny how the singer sounds an awful lot like Tom Lehrer. ....A-n-d now I'm back. :-) *


The last couple of weeks I've been focused on plot. Hip deep in it, as the title of this post says. I've been applying new (to me) approaches and coming up with a workable structure and a lot of ideas for scenes. I've learned quite a bit about what works--and especially what doesn't--for me from all the books I've started writing and then abandoned in the last few years. It all seems to be coming together. The best part is that I'm more excited than ever about this story. Coming from someone who had convinced myself that knowing too much about what was about to happen was a sure fire way to kill a story dead for me, I have to say I'm a bit in shock.

My goal is still to have a first draft done before heading off to the RWA National Conference. And for the first time since I started working on this, even with the short time left before the conference, I actually feel like I'll make it.

* With apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan, Tom Lehrer, and the Duke of Wellington (gratuitously pictured)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In



This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.

Today is Monday, May 30, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 215 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 53750 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 107500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 161250 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 215000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 268750 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Current Project: April Fools Anthology
Status: Moving forward

Plotting seems to be about the individual. Are we a panster or a plotter? To me, it is no longer relevant. The plot is in the head somewhere. Sometimes we write it down, erase it, rewrite it, find out the plot is lame and rewrite again. When I am really out of inspiration, I revert to plotting. When the story is front and center in my head, I write and write and write some more.

With the "R" looming (5 1/2 days) I have found myself beginning to write on the anthology. And yes, with little to do in the computer lab with 26 high school students working on creating a business, boredom set in. I mapped out the 6 chapters of the anthology and gave character to my hero and heroine.

I have yet to develop a relevant conflict--little things. No motivation either--oh well. It will come, just need some brainstorming time with my critique partners.

I wish everyone good luck with their plotting and cheer you all on. Let's all write a great book, a keeper if you will.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

RE-PLOTTING

Current Project: Nine-book LEGACY series
Status: Nearing the halfway point of the series
Posted by: Genene Valleau


I mentioned in one of my comments on our blog that I hit a point last week where I needed to step back and re-plot some of the major events in my nine-book series.


I usually do this about three-quarters of the way through a single book. However, with this series, I'm doing more plotting than usual (hard to believe, I know!). And this re-plotting happened just short of the halfway mark in the series.


Re-plotting is one of the times I take advantage of tools and techniques I've learned in classes/ presentations, or read in books--most of the time mutated to fit my own unique writing process.


I had lots of great action events--explosions, fires, one of the main characters getting shot--lots of "stuff" going on, but it seemed to be getting mired in circles rather than moving forward.


I realized I hadn't dug deep enough to show the building tension and rising stakes behind these actions for both the main characters and the villain/antagonist.


So for each major action event, I listed the steps that led to each event--arranging them from simply irritating to the last straw that led to an extreme reaction--and what motivated the main characters and antagonist to react as they did.


This process of re-plotting gave me a clear direction, some additional ideas for plot twists and surprises, and kicked me back into intense writing mode for several of these books--at least for now.


Since this series is fairly complex, I'll probably be re-plotting several times over the course of writing these books. How about you? Does your writing process involve stepping back and clarifying--or changing--the direction of your plot? Or do you know your direction with certainty from the time you start writing?



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I moved from Lawyer to Logger... That's how my mind works

Current Project: Cleaning up
Status: Last polish of Spirit of the Sky, formatting Perfectly Good Nanny for kindle, and deciding what to do with two already written stories.

The next book I'll tackle is the last Halsey brother book. Hank's story- Lawyer in Petticoats. Though I've been thinking that title may change. Since I couldn't make the storyline work for that title I'm thinking of changing it to Logger in Petticoats.

I still need to research and see how I can make a conflict between Hank and a logging outfit that of course the heroine's family will own/run.

But doing the plotting I can see her perhaps joining in a 4th of July logging contest and perhaps beating the hero... There are some things that agility is needed over brawn.

And I think it would mean a road trip to a logging museum. Yes.. I see that in the future, too.

This is how my stewing and brewing process begins. Changing the title has given me a new perspective on his story and makes me eager to get started. Time to hit the library and start researching. Hmmm.. Shall I keep the heroine I originally slated for this story?

Gallagher McConnell has a full head of chestnut hair, fiery temper, quick mind, full body that's muscular. She is constantly proving to the world she belongs in her family's profession. At times her twin brother, Grayson, teases her she should act like a woman or she'll end up a spinster. But for now she isn't interested in a family, she's set on becoming a partner in the logging business.

And that is the beginning of brainstorming my next book.

Are you this sporadic in thoughts? Do you start with ideas and slowly merge them into something on paper or do you start write away jotting them down and making charts?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, May 23, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 222 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 55500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 111000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 166500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 222000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 277500 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Sarah's Plot Puzzle: Roots of Genre romance Plots?

Current Project: Blindsight
Status: Discovery Wordbuilding for Revisions

I was skimming through Ronald B. Tobias’s famous book, 20 Master Plots, the other day when I had an idea. Just for fun, I decided to try matching ‘Classic’ romance plots with Tobias’s non-romance ‘Masters’ from which they may have evolved.

Check out changingminds.org for a summary list of Tobias’s Master Plots. Here are the match-ups I made.

Romance Plot--------------------Master Plot
Secret_Baby----------------------Discovery Plot
Woman-in-Jeopardy------------Pursuit/Rescue/Escape Plots
Mystery-----------------------------Riddle Plot
Vampire/Shape-Shifter---------Metamorphosis Plot
Romantic_Triangle--------------Rivalry/Underdog Plot
Runaway_Bride------------------Pursuit/Maturity/Transformation
Reunion/Second Chance--------Discovery Plot
Treasure_Hunt--------------------Quest/Adventure Plot

Do my match-ups make sense to you? Try it; it’s a fun and enlightening way to learn more about plot. Can you come up with more matches?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quote of the Day


"Is there a romance novel cliché or plot twist you have gotten really sick of? Then maybe you can use it to generate a story idea. Story ideas created this way have the advantage of being both fresh and yet familiar at the same time. They also give you the satisfaction of turning an annoying cliché on its head."


I remember when the obnoxious alpha hero was popular.  You know, the guy who never listened to anyone and always pushed the (sweet, virginal, mousy) heroine around, and she fell for him (heaven knows why).  Those always drove me crazy (though a lot of people love them).  

What if I wrote a story with a heroine who was a self-centered CEO of a major corporation, rolling in money, bossing everyone around, used to getting her own way--and she fell for a really sweet guy and had to find a way to win his love.  Hey, that's not too bad.  If I could find a way to motivate her so she's not beyond redemption (which was always the key to making those bossy heroes work, after all), then that could be an interesting story.

So what's your pet-peeve, your most annoying romance novel cliche?  How would you turn it into something fresh, something that you'd actually enjoy writing?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, May 16, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 229 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 57250 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 114500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 171750 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 229000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 286250 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Scene Plots

Current Project: April Fools Anthology
Status: Would love a title

Scene plots are how I proceed when I have a general idea of the direction of the book. Before I begin plotting, I have an in depth profile of the characters. When I plot a scene, I know the first sentence and the last sentence of that scene. I have the POV character listed. This is a good reference if other activities take me away from the book for longer than a day. I plot one scene, write it then move on to the next scene.

Some things included in the scene plot are:
Beginning with Chapter number and Scene number I move on to the turning point. Turning points can be major or small but every scene needs one. The next step is to list the key plot points in that scene. I have a beginning, middle and an end.

Each scene needs to begin and end with impact to keep the reader turning the pages. Other things listed for the scene plot (I don't always fill out each question) If the story is moving at a quick pace and I know exactly where it is going, the page turns out to be a bit blank.

Foreshadowing, Setting, Important elements, Theme, Motivation, Tone, Tension and I try to plot to a twist in every scene. Conflict should include internal, external and romantic. Then at the bottom of the page I write the beginning sentence and the ending sentence.

This probably sounds confusing but when it is all condensed on one page per scene it is very easy. (for me) I have tried and failed with story boards although I know they are great tools for the organized writer. I know I'm more than a little random. When I plot an entire book, it never ends up the way I plotted it. So why waste time?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

PLOTTING AND OUTLINING: TWO OF MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT WRITING

Current Project: Nine-book LEGACY series
Status: Final edits to book #1

I'm definitely a detailed plotter. However, unlike some other writers, that doesn't "spoil" the story for me, as surprises always come up when I do the intense writing of the story.

I'm currently working on a series of nine books. The main characters are eight adopted siblings and their mother, along with love interests for each. Not only are there internal conflicts for each character and external plot conflicts, every major event affects each member of the family. There's also a major story arc that connects all of the nine books that seems to be resolved at the end of each book, but isn't actually complete until the end of the final book of the series. That means plotting for this series is critical so I don't have one of the women pregnant for two years or have a town explode in one book and miraculously be intact in another.


My plotting process usually involves storyboards on a wall in my office--one with pictures of the main characters and things that are important to them, and another that shows the plot development scene by scene. My series is more complex than any previous projects, so one entire wall in my office is covered with visual storyboards of the main characters and draft covers for each of the stories in the series. (The picture is an early version of my photo storyboards for this series.)


Since the wall space is full, the plotting developments are on spreadsheets on my computer. I've listed the main characters of each book down one side of the spreadsheet, and the main events and when they happen across the top. Then, for each main event, I'm making notes of how that event affects each character. For example, the town exploding triggers one of the main characters to propose to the woman he has been dating for a short time because he realizes he loves her. One of the other main characters is seriously burned in the explosions. Another character suspects the town's citizens are keeping a dark secret that she decides to investigate. And so on for each character.


I also need to keep my spreadsheets up to date as surprises come up in the intense writing of the stories that change later events or spin a character's development in a different direction.


I'll venture to say this kind of plotting is not for pantsters. However, I think my detailed spreadsheets will save me a lot of time and hair-pulling when I'm doing final edits and need a quick check of events that happened in the summer of my story timeline. :)


A question for plotters and pantsters alike: have you used spreadsheets to track the outline or plot of your story or series of books? Do you use spreadsheets for any part of planning your book or is this something that makes your eyes roll back in your head?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Brainstorming- good , bad, ugly?

Current Project:Spirit of the Sky
Status: First Draft finished!!
I like helping other people brainstorm. It's fun to see how they are building their characters, plots, and overall story.

I also have a couple people I brainstorm with when I'm coming up with a project or stuck on a project. Usually not the whole thing.

Many years ago I did story magic with some members of this RWA chapter with my spirit books, mostly book one. It would be interesting to hear from the members who have read it if it was what they thought it would be when I was story magicking it.

The reason I'm wondering this is my latest finished project I've been shopping to agents has had two thumbs up from everyone who's read it EXCEPT the person I brainstormed nearly the whole thing with. She read the first few chapters and said "It isn't what I thought it would be. I don't like your heroine and I did when we brainstormed."

Do you think when you brainstorm a project with another writer that they then sort of write it in their mind and when it is different in your story they have trouble wrapping their mind around your story? Have you had that happen to you with either something someone else helped you brainstorm or something you helped someone else with?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Finding Time to Write, and Encouraging Words

Last Read: White Night by Jim Butcher



Current Read: Turn Coat by Jim Butcher



Planned Next Read: Small Favor by Jim Butcher









My life has been rather busy lately: full-time day job, homework with the kids, after school sports, the day to day routine of feeding my family and making certain everyone has something clean to wear. And it is about to get even busier, as we prepare for the newest addition to our family to arrive. So where, in all of this semi-organized chaos, do I find time to write?





Lucky for me, I enjoy 'organic' writing. I have several old-fashioned, college-ruled notebooks, each of them dedicated to different writing projects. It is so simple to carry a notebook with me everywhere I go. I squeeze in character development while on break at work and waiting at the doctor's office. Plots are painstakingly outlined inbetween my childrens' turns at bat while sitting on the sidelines. Character conflict and relationships get jotted down while on one of the multiple porcelain cruises that are a major part of current daily routine (these would be the home cruises, not dayjob cruises).





And it is great, the people who are interested in where I am with my current work in progress. During a doctor visit last year, I quizzed my doctor on the best way to kill off one of my characters. She recently asked me how the book is coming along. Coworkers used to going around me on the stairs at work, one of my favorite places to sit and write while on break, ask how the book is going. People who work in other buildings ask about my book when I bump into them after not seeing them for several months. My best friend's husband asks me how the book is turning out, wondering when he will get to read it. It amazes me, the number of people who ask with genuine interest and strongly encourage me to keep working on my book. Just a couple of words from someone is enough to energize and keep me going for weeks.





A huge thank-you, to all the people who keep encouraging me to reach for and live my dream of being an author of multiple published books! Your words of encouragement mean more to me than you will ever know.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, May 9, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 236 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 59000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 118000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 177000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 236000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 295000 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Storyboard: Chart Your Story to Find Plot Holes

Current Project: Blindsight (working title), PN
Status: Characters stuck in limbo in middle of climax due to Other Obligations

My process includes writing a full-on, NaNoRiMo-style First Draft in order to avoid waking my Internal Editor. After doing a lot of brainstorming about characters, GMC, settings, and Major Turning Points, I am ready to roll. When I reach The End, I put the First Draft away for a couple weeks, take a break, and work on something else.


Then I chart my manuscript, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, on a Storyboard. I use this tool to create a visual representation of my book on a big piece of oak tag board.  Some authors use a white board and erasable markers. The Storyboard allows me to examine the story’s structure and find plot holes; out-of-place, missing, or unnecessary scenes; places where my pacing drags; threads that haven’t been neatly tied up – and anything else I want to track.

A storyboard can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. There are no rules, only guidelines.

I mark out a grid with a pencil or permanent marker: four rows (each representing about one-quarter of the story –Acts 1 thru 4) of five boxes ( for a twenty-chapter book; you can adjust for your own work.)

BASIC STORYBOARD GRID

Ch. 1
Inciting Incident
ACT 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Ch. 4
Ch. 5

1ST TP
Ch. 6
ACT 2

Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Ch. 10

2ND TP
Ch. 11
ACT 3

Ch. 12
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Ch. 15

3RD TP
Ch. 16
ACT 4

Ch. 17
Ch. 18
Ch. 19
Ch. 20

The End


For one story, I began with a very simple Storyboard to examine suspense and romance plots in order to balance them in a romantic suspense. I also tracked POV character for each scene.

Make up your own color scheme. Just be sure to post a list of what your sticky colors mean somewhere on the blank area of the board for easy reference. The blank areas also give you a place to track deleted scenes, write notes to yourself, etc.

Square orange sticky notes told me what happened in the suspense plot in each chapter.
Pink listed the romantic developments.
Green were the subplot
Yellow tracked the H/H’s Story Arcs

I used sticky tabs for each scene in the chapter. These included chapter/scene numbers (1-1, 1-2, etc.) and a description (Body find, First Meet, etc.)
Heroine’s POV scenes=pink tabs
Hero’s POV scenes=green tabs
Villain’s POV scenes=purple tabs

SAMPLE CHAPTER BLOCK

Suspense Plot Kickoff
(Meg, Alex, dogs=Beauty and the Beast)
Dogs find body – someone’s framing Meg for murder
Sisters toss body in the river [ORANGE]
Romance Plot First Meet
(Meg, Lance=police chief/ hunky neighbor, Beast)
Lance shows up looking for uncle’s lost dog (Dingbat)
[PINK]
Subplot Kickoff
Tish=Meg’s sister and Jamie=Tish’s Bosnian friend/
co-worker
CONTRASTS w/ Meg’s foreshadowing [GREEN]
Meg’s Character Arc
Sisters State Meg’s Goal
Lance’s Character Arc
Shows he needs to prove himself as the new Chief
[YELLOW]
1-1 Body Find M=POV
[PINK]
1-4 Meg waits during search M=POV [PINK]
1-2 First Meet L=POV
[GREEN]
No scene
1-3 Body-in-woods Call L=POV
[GREEN]
No scene

I could see at a glance whether or not a chapter included movement in both plots. I could follow plot threads easily. If someone other than the protagonist had too many POV scenes, or I forgot to let the reader know what the villain was up to for too long, the color patterns made these things obvious.

Here’s a photo of the one I did for a single-title Romantic Suspense with multiple subplots:

The vertical row of stickies down the left side is my reference guide. The stickies below the line are deleted scenes and notes to myself.

Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, the Storyboard may be just the tool you need to find and fix your story's hidden flaws. Try it! 

If making a Storyboard stresses you out, maybe this tool's not for you - and that's okay. But if  you have fun with this plotting tool, fantastic! Add it to your writing toolkit. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Quote of the Day


"I have writer friends who plot out their books from the first word to the last, and that works very well for them. Me, if I do that, I feel as if the story is already written, so on to the next book."

(Beverly Jenkins, interviewed by Eileen Putnam in the March 2011 Romance Writers Report.)

I've struggled with this issue a lot in my own writing.  Finding out that an author of 30 published novels in historical, contemporary, and young adult genres has the same problem is comforting to me!

I originally tried to outline extensively, but found I lost enthusiasm for the story when I did that (it felt "already written," as Beverly Jenkins says).

Then I tried the opposite approach, simply writing anything that came to mind with no pre-determined direction.  That didn't work for me either.  Secondary characters went off on tangents, the mystery subplot got lost, and the main characters wandered from one event to the next with no purpose.

So now I'm trying something in the middle.  In my last book a contemporary romance, I had a fairly complex mystery subplot.  So I worked out the mystery step by step, figuring what the hero (a cop) would learn at each stage of the story that would lead him to the solution.  Then I let the relationship between the characters grow organically within that framework.  The problem eventually became clear--the mystery overshadowed the romance in the story.

So now I'm revising, doing the same thing with the romance I did with the mystery--outlining its progression through the course of the story, and then filling it in as I go through each scene.

We'll see how it goes.

So how have you dealt with this issue?  Are you a plotter or a "pantser"?  Do you prefer to know exactly where your story is going before you sit down to write, or are you more comfortable letting the story flow?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Plot and plot, what is plot? *

Current Project: The Lazarus Equation (working title)
Status: Opening scenes


This month's suggested blog topic is uncannily appropriate for me to talk about right now. I'm still at that point in my writing where I'm searching for the right balance of plotting vs. "writing by the seat of my pants" or what some people refer to as being a "pantser". (I prefer to call it writing without a net)


If you had asked me whether I was a plotter or a pantser when I first starting writing with the goal of publication, I would have come down squarely on the side of being a plotter. I used to see that question as black or white, or as opposite sides of the same coin. Either one was a plotter or one was a pantser and that was that.

And then I found that the more I plotted a story, the less likely I was to want to actually, you know, write it. So I thought, well, I must be a pantser and set about jumping into story after story without any idea where they were going and, you guessed it, completely failing to finish any of them.


Now I tend to view the writing process as a spectrum with being a plotter at one end and a pantser at the other. I'm learning that I fall somewhere on that spectrum, with a mix of both approaches combining into a process that's uniquely my own. I just have to figure out where on the spectrum I'm happiest.


I know, for instance, that I'm afraid of getting bored if I've plotted out what's going to happen too far in advance of writing. However, I do want to know what's coming a few scenes ahead of where I'm at so that I can keep the momentum going. One tricky part comes in knowing how far ahead is too far.


I also like to know the ultimate goal and major turning points in the story. But not in too much detail. A lot of people say they can write an outline and still feel able to deviate from it. Not me. Oh, no. That would be too easy. No, when I put plot information on paper I tend to be stuck with it. I have to make my turning points and story goals sufficiently vague so that I can change them easily if needed without causing me grief, but with enough detail that I can write towards them. That's the other tricky part--how vague is vague enough without being too vague?


Well, I know my head hurts now--how about you?


Those tricky parts? They're what I'm still figuring out.


So, tell me about your process. It's the age old question for writers: Are you a plotter or a pantser or are you somewhere in between? Did figuring it out come easily to you, or did you struggle to find your process?


* The title of this post is a totally gratuitous and unrelated reference to "Spock's Brain," generally agreed to be one of if not the worst Star Trek (the original series) episode ever, in which the following immortal line is uttered, "Brain and brain, what is brain?"

Monday, May 02, 2011

Weekly Progress Check-In




This is the Mid-Willamette Valley RWA's weekly check-in.  Every Monday we encourage members and visitors to let us know how their writing is going.


Today is Monday, May 2, 2011.

Are you on track to reach your goals?

There are 243 days left in 2011.

Weekly Calculations:
If you write 1 page per day, you can write 60750 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 2 pages per day, you can write 121500 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 3 pages per day, you can write 182250 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 4 pages per day, you can write 243000 more words by the end of the year.
If you write 5 pages per day, you can write 303750 more words by the end of the year.

So how are you doing?  If you have gotten off track, this is the week you can regain your momentum.  Tell us how you're doing, and set a fresh goal for the upcoming week.  A page a day is a book in a year.  You can do it!

PRIZES:  The best prize is reaching your personal goal and finishing your book.  But if you need an extra little incentive, remember:  any chapter member who reaches her personal goal by the end of the year receives a prize at the year-end party.  Non-members can win, too.  Non-members who show up for at least 20 weekly check-ins will have their names entered in a drawing for a gift card from Powells, the world's largest independent bookstore.