Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Question of the Day #525

I'm having trouble plotting.

I wrote my first novel in serial fashion. One cliffhangered chapter at a time. I had no idea where the story was going. I just let my characters run with it. But when I was done, the novel had more plotholes then LA after El Nino. (Potholes/plotholes? You know what I mean.)

The second novel writing process was similar, but initially I had a much clearer idea of where the story was headed. Still, I let my characters run with the story and then went back and filled in all the plotholes.

And when it came time to develop the third novel, I knew exactly what should happen. I plotted first and constructed an outline. Then I wrote and revised. But it still wasn't quite right, so after getting some amazing advice from my guru, Nancy Lamb, I replotted and revised.

This time, I really don't know where the story is going, so it's tough to outline. I'm tempted to use the let my main character run with it method because I don't seem to have another choice.

So, I'm looking for a little genius brainstorming here. How do you plot? Any suggestions?



  1. I so have the same problem. I work better when I just let the characters run with it, but it's a lot of work to fix it later. I've got nothing for you. Sorry.

  2. Plot? What's that?

    Let's see, about halfway through, I realize the direction I'm going in is not strong enough. Then my MC runs away from the main setting and I'm wondering where he's going. He finds two new characters out of nowhere and brings them into the story.

    Afterwards, I have to change where he ran to, kill one of the new characters, beef up the role of the other new character and I still have to scrub the whole thing for what the arc wound up being instead of what I had thought it was going to be.

    Plot? Novel idea.

  3. I'm not a writer by any stretch of the imagination, but I do need to be creative yet structured in my work. I will often draw concept or systems maps on huge pieces of paper to help me work visualize how things need to be.

    I also take a similar approach with my artwork, collecting visual cues/inspiration points in a file, and then at some point, I do sketches and map them together into what I think makes the most sense for my ultimate vision.

    Good luck with your story!

  4. I usually have a general idea of the conflict and resolution and run with it.
    Though I am going back now and doing more in depth exercises to go deeper into my characters now. (Im changing my chapter book into an mg, so need more meat and conflict in it!)
    Good luck!

  5. I've only written two MGs and both times I started with outlines from start to finish. I do like the idea of letting characters run because you learn a lot about them and they might take you in directions you didn't consider in the first place.


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