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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

#TuesdayTips with @RachellNichole

Welcome back Divettes!

It's time for another inspiring rendition of Tuesday Tips!

This week is all about plotting tips, since I will be teaching my adapted Three-Act Structure plotting method at next week's In Your Write Mind workshop.

5. Try a new method. So the first thing a writer should always tell other writers is that there are so many different methods of writing (or plotting) that you shouldn't feel married to one way of doing things. Everyone's process is different and what works for me might not always work for you. And what works for me for one book, might not work for me for the next one. Just like with kids. You have to adapt toeach book the way you do to each child. So when you're out there trying to figure
out your next book, I encourage you to check out a bunch of different plotting methods. There are a bazillion books, blogs, and workshops about plotting. Check them out, and pick one, or pick a few bits and pieces from some different methods and make your own.

4. Leave holes in your plot. I know this may sound counterproductive, but if you get so bogged down on figuring out every single detail in the plot, the minutiae pieces will prevent you from plotting the whole arc of a book in one or two sittings. A plot shouldn't take you three months to write. You want to spend the bulk of your time on the actual writing process, not on figuring out what you're going to write about. Some authors write out a very detailed, step-by-step plot, and that's not a bad thing, but most people will get so bogged down in little pieces that they can't ever reach the end of the plot. So if you aren't sure of a detail or how exactly something is going to work out, leave it blank, put a space holder in that place to know something is missing, and move on to the next piece.

3. Having a plot doesn't always mean you'll get bored with the book. I hear this a lot from pantsers (those writers who write by the seat of their pants) often say that if they know the plot, they feel like they've already told themselves the story, so why would they bother writing it? This goes along with number four - leave yourselves holes. You can't discover everything about a book just from plotting it. Sure, you know the ending, but you can learn so much more about the characters, and their story, in a novel than you can just from a plot. If knowing the ending makes you bored, write out the bulk of the plot, but leave the ending a little open. You can even try plotting out three different endings, having a note card or sticky note for each one and then when you're almost done writing the book, you can discover which ending fits best with the book.

2. Plotting a book should be fun. Now, I know there are some nay-sayers out there that will say I should take my writing, my craft seriously. It's not a hobby, it's a job. And they're right. Really, they are. But, and this is a big but - if I'm not having fun at my job, I'm not doing it anymore. Period. Or else, why keep doing it? The day I stop finding the fun and enjoying the writing process
is the day I will retire from this job. Plotting is just one stage of the writing process, and it should be fun. Maybe it's not as much fun for you as research, or revisions, or writing the book, but you should still find some enjoyment in it. Maybe it's the idea of infinite possibilities when you start plotting a new book. Maybe it's the comfort of having a direction to go in before you sit down before the blank page. Maybe it's the fact that you love figuring out where you're going and exactly how you're going to get there. Doesn't matter. Whatever it is about plotting that you like, make sure you find a way to enjoy it. Because, if you don't, why are you torturing yourself to write a book?

And the number 1 thing to remember - A plot is never set in stone.  Pantsers also say things like "I can't write out a plot, because then I have to write the book that way." But, that's just not true! A plot is like a road map. There's point A (New York City) and point B (San Francisco). When you plot out your route, you pick a direction and highlight the way and then embark on your journey. Say you were *supposed* to stop in Wisconsin for some cheese, then South Dakota to see Mt. Rushmore, then Utah for some salt, then Nevada for the Las Vegas Strip and then arrive in San Francisco, on time, and exhilarated, but instead you decide you just have to detour to Wyoming and see Yellowstone, then you're really hankering for some Idaho potatoes, and then you give up slot machines for the Space Needle up in Seattle before you meander your way through Northern California's Yosemite and then Death Valley before arriving in San Francisco... well, that's mighty all right! That's why you have a road map, because when you have to veer off course, when you just have to go down the less trodden path or into the deep dark woods, you have a guide to get you back to where you wanted to go. Let's even say you got to San Francisco and decided you hated it? Well, LA is just a hop, skip, and a jump away, and though it wasn't your intended destination, you've still traveled across the country, still gone from New York to California, and you've finished the damned book! That's the most important part, right? To get from the beginning of the book, through the murky middle, and to the glorious end!

So there you are, folks. Rach's top 5 things to remember when you're plotting a book. Now go forth and plot your pants off!

If you have questions or comments about plotting, plotting methods, or plotting resources, please feel free to share in the comments section! I can't talk about this stuff enough!


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