So, I know I wanted to update you guys more regularly about it, but alas I got busy and didn’t. But I bet you’re all dying to know how my adventure in plotting went.
Well, I got pretty mixed results.
So I ended up trying a few different things:
- outlining the general scene (making a scene list)
- Answering questions about the scene
- outlining specifics for the scene
The last two, I found the least helpful actually. When I had a specific outline, I still veered massively off course and wrote whatever I wanted for the scene. Alternatively, if I didn’t veer off course, I flipped back and forth between my outline and my work and it ended up taking longer to write.
As for the questions, I found only some helpful. Otherwise, I rolled my eyes a little (haha yeah I’m an asshole). Questions like: “What’s the MC’s motivation?” often had me answering: “Well, not dying, or not letting someone else die.” Now I realize that’s an oversimplification and of course, that’s not always going to be my answer, but for me, it was really redundant. If I’m writing a scene, I’ve already considered my MC’s motivation. However, for instance, answering “who needs to be in this scene?” helped me realize when I needed to create a new character and that I needed to make up a new name for that character. That was probably the most helpful, otherwise, it felt a little like homework. And having the date was also helpful.
So, for what I found most helpful – the general outline. This was basically a scene list. And it helped me stay on track the most. I made it in an excel document, lined the dates up along the edge and my character names along the top and then filled in their scenes. Of course, some characters have scenes together so I highlighted who the pov character would be.
I was pretty happy with the results of doing this. It helped me stay on track, brainstorm a little where I was going (and made me realize that I’m closer to the end than I thought), and helped me keep track of what characters were where, when. So all in all, would definitely do this again, but probably not for a single POV book.
I did learn something interesting in doing a little research on how to outline/plot. Most of the exercises I found focused on asking yourself questions about the characters, events, and settings. Like: what could go wrong? What does this character want? Just to name a few, and really, I already do all that, the difference being, I don’t write it down (also I’m not nearly so detailed). Anyway, I’m starting to think I am actually somewhere between a plotter and a pantser. Or maybe I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to plotting and I’m just really confused. Probably the latter.
Anyway, what are your thoughts on my little experiment? For all you plotters out there, tell me a little about your process and how detailed you get!