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 To plot or not to plot?

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Jenny
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Jenny

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Location : Sheffield, England

To plot or not to plot? Empty
PostSubject: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyFri Feb 01, 2008 10:07 am

I was just wondering how many of us sit down and plot. By that I mean, do you write an outline? Do you develop your characters to the extent that you know their height, weight, religion, relationship to other characters?

Personally, I rough out a paragraph or two about each character and write half to one page of a story outline. I like to see where my characters take me rather than write out scene cards or chapter outlines for every stage of my novel.

I just wondered how everyone else approaches a new work.
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyFri Feb 01, 2008 10:37 am

Wow, Jenny, I've had discussion after discussion about this and have come to the conclusion there are no rules other than what works for you.

My very good friend Graham Parks drafts out comprehensive and exhaustive plans for his novels and sticks rigidly to them. I close my eyes and fall into the stories and see where they take me. Often I have no idea where the next chapter is going to take me and who is going to be in it until I actually start typing it. When the first draft of a whole novel is complete I then use that as my plan and spend a great deal of time bashing and thumping it into some kind of shape.

I can't work to Graham's methods and he can't work to mine. However, I'm published and he's not yet!
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Jenny
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Jenny

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyFri Feb 01, 2008 11:36 am

Hi George,

It seems that you and I write in pretty much the same way. As you say, there are no rules, other than what works for you. As an exercise it would be interesting to know if the plotters out number the non-plotters!
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyFri Feb 01, 2008 11:50 am

Yes, it would be interesting to know what percentage of plotters and non plotters are published!
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

Number of posts : 4017
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Age : 72
Location : Washington, USA

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 02, 2008 1:15 pm

Non plotter here. I started with an idea, and ran with it. Or should I say my characters ran with it! 344 pages later, it was a book! I have heard that some folks do outlines, or character studies, but I do the outline as I go, since characters get added, and change.

The outline is simply my reminder to me so I know who is who, when they were born, when I introduced them, etc. It gets edited as much as my manuscript!

Perhaps it is that my ouline/plot gets done in my head before I even get started.
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Karina Kantas
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Karina Kantas

Number of posts : 196
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Location : Corfu Greece

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySun Feb 03, 2008 1:15 am

I have a basic storyline before I start, but that's about it. The characters grow and come alive with their own personalities while I write.

More than once, the novel ended up having a storyline, different to the one I started of with.

When the story takes hold, keeps you awake at night, the characters become real people, and the conflicts actualy happened. That's when I know I'm on the right track.
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Pam
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Pam

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Age : 53
Location : Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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PostSubject: To plot - not   To plot or not to plot? EmptySun Feb 03, 2008 8:26 am

I have to confess to being a non-plotter. I do keep notes nearby of dates and character quirks so that I do not have to keep checking back within the manuscript, but the plot takes shape as I write rather than before I do. I tried to create very rigid outlines (and have to do that for some of the paid contract writing that I do), but find that they take the fun out of it for me. One of the limitations of having a short attention span I suppose - I get bored with myself! Shocked
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Pam Kimmell
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Pam Kimmell

Number of posts : 37
Registration date : 2008-01-21
Location : Warrenton, VA, USA

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PostSubject: No Plots For Me!   To plot or not to plot? EmptySun Feb 03, 2008 11:11 am

Hi All......George you are right - I believe we all have to find our own way when it comes to our plots. I let my characters pull me along in THEIR story and I know a lot of great writers who have elaborate outlines and stick to them......I think you can be successful either way but I love giving my characters the freedom to go where they please. I was as surprised by the plotline of my first book as any of my readers !! I write mysteries anyway so not knowing the details and having to figure things out as I go along is "comfortable" for me as a writer AND as a reader.
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jck200
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jck200

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyTue Feb 05, 2008 12:28 pm

Hi,

Well my two books were non fiction so it was a matter of putting them together in a reasonable order.

Strangely creating a universe from scratch using logic followed a natural step by step sequence of events without me having to think about it.

john
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Jenny
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Jenny

Number of posts : 531
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Location : Sheffield, England

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyThu Feb 07, 2008 6:06 am

It seems that most of us are non-plotters. I find that interesting as most established authors, perhaps with the exception of Nora Roberts are plotters. I wonder if this is where new, unpublished authors go wrong!
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

Number of posts : 12625
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyThu Feb 07, 2008 7:02 am

There are several ways that new authors go wrong Jenny. The first big mistake they make is in thinking that their first novel is a compelling read because they were compelled to write it.

New writers enthuse about how much they love writing and they feel that it's something they have always wanted to do. This often shows in their first published novel.

The enthusiasm of the author often shows through and readers feel they are reading something the author wanted to write rather than reading something they want to read.

Authors should write for their readers, not for themselves. Writing should be a task -- hard work, at times unfulfilling, mind sapping and only enjoyable when the last 't' has been crossed and the last 'i' dotted. The enjoyment should come from a job well done and the absolute certainty that the writer gave their all to achieve as much as they are capable of giving.

If writing is enjoyable, you are not working hard enough.

Ballerinas toes bleed, musicians fingers ache, athletes muscles fill with lactic acid -- if you, as a writer, do not suffer for your art, your art is unworthy and not good enough.

Writers who are wiling to learn their craft and write in a way that is acceptable to editors (remove information dumps and passive sentences, reduce the number of adjectives and adverbs, add strong hooks to grab the reader, include strong imagery and plot lines, develop identifiable characters) are the ones who will succeed and the rest will fall away.

So far, I have concentrated on honing my writing skills. It is only a start and I have a long way to go. I need to learn how to craft a novel. If it is as difficult to master as the writing has been thus far, I have a long way to go. Maybe I will fail but at least I will have done my best. That is as much as any of us can do.

_________________
To plot or not to plot? 81KU-cLOw3L._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41C9GeFDNWL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 51eDGllZXhL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 41y7VHKoszL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 51Zs4N4T4eL._SX115_
Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins


Last edited by on Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:35 am; edited 2 times in total
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lynnjett
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lynnjett

Number of posts : 39
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Age : 61
Location : US - Texas

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyThu Feb 07, 2008 7:33 am

Character driven novels tend to work best for me. So I do a rather "exhaustive background check" on my characters. Admitedly since my characters are fiction, I make up details about their lives, but the details must be logical and reasonable and include flaws, weakness, dreams and desires.

Rarely do I use everything I have discovered about a character, but it nice to have that background information. Then I do a rough outline for the first 50 pages. If the characters come to live and the idea becomes a story, I stay with it and see where the story will take me.

I found forcing an ending or plot is the worst thing a person can do to a story.

Lynn
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

Number of posts : 10721
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Location : Germany

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyThu Feb 07, 2008 8:08 am

Shelagh, you said:

"Authors should write for their readers, not for themselves."

I find that statement fascinating. I wish I could effectively convey that to an author friend who is struggling with that problem.
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Shiela
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Shiela

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyFri Feb 08, 2008 1:11 pm

I rarely plot. An idea will come to me and I just run with it. Then I decide what to name my characters, what they will look like and so on. After I've written the story, I go through it and see where it needs expanding. I also do my research while I'm writing the story.

Shiela Stewart
www.shielasbooks.ca
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptyFri Feb 08, 2008 3:56 pm

Jenny wrote:
It seems that most of us are non-plotters. I find that interesting as most established authors, perhaps with the exception of Nora Roberts are plotters. I wonder if this is where new, unpublished authors go wrong!
Only intelligent people would arrive at this conclusion Jenny ... and, as we all know, intelligence is the ability to learn from experience. So, are you about to become a plotter or not? LOL! Laughing

~Shelagh

_________________
To plot or not to plot? 81KU-cLOw3L._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41C9GeFDNWL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 51eDGllZXhL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 41y7VHKoszL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 51Zs4N4T4eL._SX115_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 12:34 am

I would hazard a guess and say that just about all well known published authors wrote their first books as non plotted affairs and later, when writing became a real hard job had to start plotting because, like the rest of us, we all only have one first book in us!

Did that make sense?
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 4:12 am

Yes! Perfect sense. The one book we have in us practically writes itself -- it's full of everything we have ever wanted to say.

The next book is different -- something that has to be worked at, crafted and honed to a different level of professionalism. If we can't do that, we fail.

_________________
To plot or not to plot? 81KU-cLOw3L._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41C9GeFDNWL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 51eDGllZXhL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 41y7VHKoszL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 51Zs4N4T4eL._SX115_
Amazon Author Central: Shelagh Watkins
I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 5:20 am

Did you know that non fiction is incredibly easier to publish than fiction? Most publishing houses will even republish the same subject matter every few years as they are always current and in demand.
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 6:26 am

You have to be knowledgeable to write non-fiction, which reduces the number of authors writing non-fiction. A little bit of knowledge seems to go a long way as far as fiction writers go. Wink

_________________
To plot or not to plot? 81KU-cLOw3L._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41C9GeFDNWL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 51eDGllZXhL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 41y7VHKoszL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 51Zs4N4T4eL._SX115_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins
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Pam
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Pam

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 6:49 am

I certainly agree about the hard work side of it Shelagh. I am also happy to hear someone else say it is hard work! A lot of people take such a romantic review of writing "oh you are so lucky!" "how I wish I could sit at home and write!" from people that really do not know how hard we work. I do a lot of technical writing in order to get paid for what I do. I am good at it, and I'd rather write than the alternatives, but I do not generally find the process of writing 'enjoyable'. Instead of making my fingers bleed like when I learned to play guitar, I often refer to it as having made my eyeballs bleed... Shocked
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Jenny
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 7:24 am

Hi Shelagh,

I'm a mainly a non-plotter. I come up with my characters and a basic outline and play the "what if" game. I keep promising myself that I will sit down and work out my next effort scene by scene, chapter by chapter, but when I do, my muse takes a hike!
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zadaconnaway
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 7:57 am

Is there such a thing as a semi-plotter? I find myself knowing where the story begins and the end result, but the middle just sort of 'forms' on it's own, depending on the characters personanlities.

That's where my outline comes in. My outline is a very brief list of characters, where they were born, what they are like, and a time line so that I can keep them all straight. As events occur, I add to the outline whatever I need to remember.

Does that make any sense?
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George Maciver
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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 10:04 am

The plot thickens . . .
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 10:42 am

Let me see ... what if Zada's characters semi-plotted together to find Jenny's muse and buy a pair of glasses for Pam. George can be an innocent bystander (you might need a bit of imagination for that).

We need a title. How about The Bleeding Muse Lost the Plot?

_________________
To plot or not to plot? 81KU-cLOw3L._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41C9GeFDNWL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 41%2BmGkZJdOL._SX110_ To plot or not to plot? 51eDGllZXhL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 41y7VHKoszL._SX115_ To plot or not to plot? 51Zs4N4T4eL._SX115_
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I shall never be old. It doesn't suit me -- ©️Shelagh Watkins
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Pam
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Pam

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PostSubject: Re: To plot or not to plot?   To plot or not to plot? EmptySat Feb 09, 2008 12:24 pm

This is perfect - we have the start of the character development AND a title! You guys are brilliant! cheers
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