It might seem strange to some of you that I waited until I was done with PRE WRITING to talk about plotty things, but I know some authors who pause and plot halfway through their first draft. I often stick my whole first draft into some kind of plotty tool AFTER I write. So, plotty tools can be used AT ANY POINT IN THE PROCESS. For me that point changes over time and changes by project.
I say this because YOU HAVE TO TAKE WHAT YOU WANT, LEAVE WHAT YOU WANT, and DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU.
We’re going to start with the plotty tool that is closest to being a pantser/organic writer and work toward the most plotter driven (and PLEASE add any others you’ve used and loved in the comments):
This is a rather IN DEPTH look at the snowflake method, but worth a read if you’re curious. You basically start with a few BIG points (a triangle), and then continually, slowly, add more points between the big ones, creating a snowflake…
7 Point Plot:
This is simple and brilliant, and works for SO many books that I have a hard time putting into a full beat sheet. Simply it works like this – HOOK, PLOT POINT, PINCH POINT (forcing action), MIDPOINT, PINCH POINT, PLOT POINT, RESOLUTION.
This came about because of a book called SAVE THE CAT, which is for screen-writing and written by Blake Snyder. If you google search BLAKE SNYDER BEAT SHEET, you’ll get more than you ever wanted. I’m not about to sort through the massive amount of posts on this. YES, this method works for 98% of the good movies I’ve seen. NO, I don’t always feel like this works for my novels when I’m trying to plot before I write, and YES, I’m aware that probably says a lot more about my process than about Snyder’s beat sheet. Honestly, my big advice here is to sit with that beat sheet and watch a few movies. Do that until the natural rhythms of good story-telling start to become engrained.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER:
This is that detailed outline that we’d normally only see in college classes or non-fiction. Where each chapter is titled, and then divided among scenes, and each scene is maybe divided and written out in bullet form as well.
Here’s a link to see photos of what I mean – LINK HERE – I know this works fab for some writers. They know all the details before they start and then can write FAST.
Whatever works for you? DO IT.
If you’re not sure? TRY A FEW THINGS.
If what you’re doing isn’t working? TRY SOMETHING ELSE.
If you just want to write? YOU CAN BE LIKE ME AND OUTLINE AT THE END
For anyone curious about my “normal” process:
I have some idea of where the story is going, how it will wrap up, and my character arcs, then I write the story. Once I have a thin first draft, I write up an outline so I can see the beats of my story, then I move and rearrange if needed, and start to fill in since my first drafts are usually about 2/3 of my final word count.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about how to keep those fingers FLYING across the keyboard and getting in big word counts 🙂
And please, I only shared things I’ve actually USED, so if you’ve used different plotty devices, feel free to share.