Friday, October 23, 2009

Plotter? Pantser? None of the Above?

If there's one thing I've learned over the last year it's that there are an infinite number of ways to approach writing. There's plotting, there's pantsing and there's all the wonderful methods in between and somewhere way off in left field.

Now, I think 'the process' is such a nebulous thing that it can be hard to explain, especially since it rarely makes complete sense even in my own mind. But I'll give it a shot.

I think I'm a weird sort of plotter hybrid. The beginnings of each MS start out differently. Sometimes it's a character that sticks in my mind and I build an MS around him or her. Sometimes I think 'what if a very uptight corporate woman met an equally driven playboy and they had to get married?' and build characters and reasoning from there. In the case of this last MS, I decided I wanted to do another marriage of convenience, because they're about my favorite plot line, so I spent some time thinking of characters and situations and stuck with the one I was able to imagine most clearly.

So from the little seeds of an idea I created my characters, Sabrina and Cade for this MS, and I started thinking about who they were, why they were that way, and what would ultimately cause conflict between them. What's going to stop them from just confession true love when it's clear they're right for each other? And how are they going to overcome it?

So after I had their internal conflict and their back story I thought, okay, now how can I throw them together. I was aiming for MOC with this one and after I came up with the reasons they would both agree to it I started thinking of what journey they needed to take.

I know their issues so the next step is to figure out what they need to grow. I always try to think of what someone with their particular set of conflicts would need to overcome in order to fall in love. What do they need to get from each other? What do they need to find on their own? So, I don't know that I plot events as much as 'milestones' I feel my characters need to reach inside so that they can grow.

Then of course I like to have my 'black moment' planned, and then a rough idea of the resolution. Rarely do I write any of this down, but I actually did this time.

However, I reserve the right to change whatever I want during the writing process, or get rid of an element I see isn't working.
So I guess I plot to give myself a direction, and then I pants as needed. :-)

What's your method for crafting a story?


  1. Well, when I've written I do an outline and the try to follow it unless I just HAVE to stick in a sub-thought. For instance, if the story is about two people that meet in a bar and I may add in this snippet of a movie scene during their first meeting that may take the guy by surprise.

  2. LOL! Method? What's that then? I start with the hero and heroine and a situation, write about 60,000 words of total c**p, then go back and try to figure out what went wrong.
    No, being serious, I'm hoping my method for future stories will be to start with two characters, work out what their internal relationship blocks are (hopefully nicely tying into each other, so that what one person does to resolve their's actually worsens the other's), then think of an external situation that will throw the two of them together.
    But I will never ever be as skilled or as prolific as you, Miasey. You really are the perfect Presents writer, and the sooner HMB realises that the better!

  3. Jane, you flatter me so. :-)But you are a darn good writer and you're going to knock 'em dead in the comp!

    Diana, thanks for stopping by!It's always fun to surprise ourselves, and our characters. I admire you for doing an outline you stick to. My planning is simply not coherant enough for that!