Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mapping Your Story

Last week was the pits.  Whatever the current respiratory flu is that's going around in my part of the country, it decided to visit me.  Last Wednesday and Thursday were spent sleeping most of the day away.  Friday was better---until I started to chill...and not in a good way.  My temperature hit 103.5.  I couldn't get warm.  Some ibuprofen, OTC cough medicine, and echinacea (my go-to whenever I feel something coming on) finally did the trick after three hours of shivering in bed.  I spent the weekend being a slug, and finally felt about 75% human by Tuesday.  I'm still tired, still would like to crawl between the covers, but I might begin to like that.  Now it's back to the business of writing and the creative process we go through with each story.

The word "plotting" strikes fear in the heart of many writers.  It did me for many years.  For some of those writers, not plotting can lead to stalling or writing in fits and starts or, even worse, coming to a complete stop with a story that is never finished. Or many stories that are never finished.

But plotting doesn't have to be the terror that many believe it is.  Plotting doesn't mean knowing every little detail of every scene.  It's basically nothing more than a road map of where your characters and their story are going.  Each writer has the option of how detailed that road map will be.

One caution:  Trying to plot before knowing your characters can lead to insanity.

Back in the olden days when I first decided to try my hand at crafting a story, I never plotted.  That's right, I said never.  There were a couple of reasons for that, the first being that I feared it would spoil the journey for me, and I'd lose interest.  I've learned since then that the more I know about my story, the easier the journey is.  I'm able to enjoy the process, instead of wasting time wondering what to do with my characters next.  The second reason had a lot to do with not having a clue HOW to plot.  And this is the first time I've ever admitted that. ☺

There are as many ways to plot as there are people who do it.  My fellow authors and good friends, Kristi Gold and Kathie DeNosky, both plot in their own, special way.  My way isn't their way, anymore than each of their ways is mine, but there are aspects we all share.

Kristi isn't a put-it-on-paper plotter, but once she starts going, it's solidly in her mind.  She knows what's going to happen, although only certain things seem to be detailed to her.  Still, her plotting has led to book #32 (THE CLOSER YOU GET, Harlequin Superromance, February 2013) hitting shelves in a matter of days.  She's obviously doing something right!

Kathie long ago shared her plotting method with me, and she also shares it on her website for others.  She taught me that each scene needs its own GMC, just as the characters do at the beginning of the story.  To keep her on track and able to have written over 30 books, with her newest, IN THE RANCHER'S ARMS, Harlequin Desire, coming out in April 2013.

While I can't take a photo of Kristi's brain, complete with plots and characters, I can share Kathie's index card method.

A closer view of  two cards used for one scene.

Kathie based her scene card method on Jack M. Bickham's SCENE AND STRUCTURE, but added her own little twist.  She shared it with me, and although I no longer use the actual cards in the same way, it's (luckily!) stuck in my head.  Plus, I always know that I can go back to it, if the need arises.

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Next week I'll go into more detail about beginning the plotting process, but for now, check out Kathie's scene cards and Kristi's upcoming book!  Oh, yes, and in March, the 7th Hearts of Desperation series book will hit shelves!

Don't fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have. ~ Louis E. Boone 

1 comment:

Joanie said...

Great blog. Love the show and tells. I love seeing other people's methods.

Glad you're returning to the living, too. We were visited by the weeklong respiratory bug last Thursday, and I've been trying to "come back" for the last couple of days. I think today I'll make a full day of writing--we'll see.

Take care.

Again, great blog!