Saturday, August 8, 2009

Plotting - Do You Have Any Suggestions?

By far, my biggest writing challenge is with plotting.

I either come up with a few terrific scenes and then border on the edge of panic when it comes to stringing them together with interesting material OR write by the seat of my pants and allow my characters to plot the rest of the story. I spend a lot of time wishing I had a plotting partner or two - but how can I ask people to give up their valuable time in pursuit of my imaginary friends?

The pantsing method has been working for me lately but, being somewhat anal about organization, I'm concerned that it may not continue working into the future. I think the major reason it's been working is because I'm tossing obstacles into the paths of my characters and it's easier dreaming up ways for them to overcome the obstacles than to plan scene after scene.

After all, isn't that what life's about? We're not privy to the grand scheme (the plot) and tend to flounder along, doing our best, oftentimes being more reactive than proactive.

Do you have any suggestions for jump-starting my plotting meter? I'm appreciate of any suggestions or ideas.


  1. Hi Linda,

    I usually say do what works for you, but sounds like your method might not be working for you right now. I like to make little mini-outlines...for just a chapter, or even just a page or a scene. I plan what type of conflict will arise, and how it furthers my plot. If it do it a little bit at a time, it seems to work better for me. Good luck!

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. I too like to make mini-outlines. The type of conflict that will arise from the scene: I jot down several (and save them in case I need them in revision) and try to think & feel which of them would be the right one. I believe Cause & Effect to be the organic way to make conflicts happen.

  3. Aha! Chunking small and giving myself several options. Sounds like a plan...

    Years ago, I used to outline everything in detail before writing and learned--a few years ago--that sometimes all the detail bogged me down and held me back.

    Maybe it's a matter of finding balance: finding the proper place between too much detail and not enough.

    Thanks for your suggestions - I'll give them a try!