Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Plotting vs. Pantsing

I thought I'd talk a bit about Plotters vs. Pantsers. This will be a discussion of Plotters.

Plotters will tell you that a book goes much smoother when you've ironed everything out in the prewriting stage - GMC, outlines, synopses, snowflake plotting, index cards, sticky notes, character interviews - everything is given the once-over before words hit the page. Plotters know their characters inside and out before they write the story, which helps when you want to plop Joe Hero into a situation he'll hate, just to get a little tension going.

Many plotters begin with character interviews, just as if they were interviewing a live person. Remember all those stupid forwards you used to get in your E-mail asking for name, DOB, likes, and dislikes? Well, they're good for something. Use them on your character!

Plotters continue with figuring out what a character's GMC is. (That's Goal, Motivation, and Conflict to you and me.) Once those are worked out, plotters will outline the story with the meet, the major turning points, the black moment, and resolution. In romance, of course, you must have a happy ending.

Plotters flesh out their skeletal structures with many other tools, but the most important one is the synopsis. That's where they'll work out whether a certain twist works, or where something can be tweaked to get the most out of a scene. By the time a plotter is done with this synopsis, the hard work is done, and all that's left is to write the story in connect-the-dots fashion! There is wiggle room, of course, but if you are a plotter and you find yourself writing way off into left field, the synopsis will help you get back on track. Not bad, if you're on a deadline.

Next time: Pantsers!

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