Welcome to PREPTOBER! It’s officially planning season for NaNoWrimo and we’re moving on in my series to the stage I call PLOTTING.
Last week we talked about gathering and cultivating ideas. Now let’s move on to putting those ideas in a discernible order.
As promised, this step works for PANTSERS too and you might be amazed at what you discover.
PLOTTING is taking all the things we found while PLANNING (the characters and plot and setting, etc.), and crafting them into scenes.
It’s taking all your little ideas and dressing them up in their Sunday best.
If you’re more of a PANTSER, there is a lot of freedom in this. You simply sit down and write, this happens, then this happens, then this happens.
You don’t have to know the order or have all the pieces. You’re just jotting down what you know, but you are creating order. You are fleshing out the details you put down in the PLANNING stage.
For some, this might look like a bullet-pointed list or a flow chart. For me, it generally involves sticky notes.
I like to break things into SCENES. I might go in order, or I might start in the middle or even from the end. It all depends on where the story leads me.
Let’s take my example from last time and build on this idea a little more:
A person checks into an institution that’s been closed for 30 years.
Is this point the beginning of my story? The middle? The end? This is only one scene in the many that either brought this person to the institution, or will carry the person away from it. We might have flashbacks. We might have a history or a narrative going forward. It all depends on the story.
The next thing I do is take all my little ideas and flesh them out on sticky notes.
- HOW DID THE PERSON COME TO BE AT THE INSTITUTION?
- HOW LONG HAS THE PERSON BEEN THERE?
- WHY IS THE INSTITUTION CLOSED?
- WHAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST THIRTY YEARS?
These are all scene ideas I would scribble furiously on a sticky note, then worry about putting them in order when we move on to OUTLINING.
The second stage of PLOTTING is finding or developing a PLOT STRUCTURE to help you through the story. These are based on GENRE typically and can be found everywhere on the internet. I use one that’s pretty basic:
- ORDINARY WORLD
- INCITING INCIDENT
- 1st PLOT POINT
- 1st PINCH POINT
- 2nd PINCH POINT
- 2nd PLOT POINT
Once you’ve figured out what all your plot points are, you should be well on your way to OUTLINING, which we will cover next week.