Library Writer’s Group: Plotting

9 Jun

After two months leaderless, our writing group leader has returned! She’s still subbing at the library and they agreed to let her use her sub hours on our group. Yay! So welcome back, Amy!

We met a few weeks ago and talked about plotting. We read an article by Courtney Carpenter that outlined the key elements of a story concept. She took the approach from Todd A. Stone’s book Novelist’s Boot Camp. It argues that the idea for a story starts from a basic situation and then asking What if? What if it rained? What if she died? What if the government was different? But then that idea has to be settled into a solid concept. And that concept needs to consist of four items.

  1. Genre
  2. Main Character
  3. Opposition
  4. Macro setting

This gives you a short concept, an elevator pitch, for your novel.

We talked about some other techniques, specifically the snowflake method as popularized by Randy Ingermanson. If you want to look him up, he has a very detailed website. Here are the basics of the snowflake method.

  1. Write a one sentence synopsis, similar to that described above.
  2. Write a five sentence, one paragraph synopsis.
  3. Develop your major characters
  4. Write a five paragraph summary
  5. Re-work characters and develop secondary characters
  6. Write a four-page synopsis

And it goes on from there. Your sentence grows into a novel.

Another guide to plotting we talked about was KM Weiland. She has a website at Helping Writers Become Authors. She reviews how to outline and structure novels on her site.

There are some writers who don’t like to outline and like to ‘pants’ their way through a novel. I am personally not one of them though I’m trying to see how it goes. My only issue with pantsing is that some writers feel that they’ve written a book in its totality after the first time through. I’m not sure its even possible to write a complete story the first time through, outline or no. Revisions are part of writing. There are novels where you can tell the author made up the plot as he or she went along and I can name some examples I’ve read, but will refrain here. I want to reiterate that my opinion is that everything needs to be revised. This involves plot and grammar. None of us is perfect and things can always be better. I don’t think my stories are better than someone who doesn’t use an outline. We will both have to revise.

At the end of our meeting, we went over some basic comma usage. It’s always good to brush up on grammar so editors aren’t pulling their hair out and thinking that writers are a bunch of idiots.

I’m excited to continue with this group. It’s been really wonderful.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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