Friday, March 30, 2012

Barbies Bunkhouse: Writing Road Map

If you're like me, you've seen, read or written numerous posts on plotters vs pantsers. I have to admit, while the bottom line is always the same, I find these kind of posts interesting and give the pantser in me hope for my plotter-wannabe status.

You see, while I'm methodical and organized in various other areas of my life...when it comes to my writing I am anything but. It was a defining moment when I attended one of my first conferences as a newbie writer and found out there were others like me! I am a pantser. Now, my writing is by no means all helter-skelter. It does make sense. I just tend to be kind of...well...all over the place. I think nothing of writing out an entire scene, then jumping to another, then going back to where I'd originally left off. Sometimes that's the only way to quiet the voices in my head.

Of course, it doesn't help when your CP (eh-hem..KariLeeTownsend) is a successful best selling author! And she should be. She is a plotter to the greatest extent of plotting. I am in awe of her plotting and outlining techniques. She's taken everything she's ever learned at conferences, and some things she's figured on her own, and put them together in a system that works! Trust me, when she's shows me what she's done, my draw drops and I have to wipe the drool. It's amazing! It makes sense and I find myself wanting to do that with my own work. Well, "I" am a WIP as far as plotting is concerned. Kari is converting me, and my stubborn pantser nature has been a bit resistant over the years, but is slowly starting to come around. Eventually, I will get it.

So where am I going with this? Well this week I worked on an actual time line for a new story. I kept finding that I just couldn't move forward even with the synopsis until I new beyond a shadow of a doubt that what needed to happen in the story could feasibly happen in real life. It's a soldiers journey to get home, but things happen along the way to detour him. So I've been researching Middle East flights, bus routes, you name it I'm looking it up. Mileage from one city to another because at one point my hero makes the journey on foot. It's opened my eyes to my story enough where I felt comfortable to crank out part of the synopsis yesterday. It's not done yet, but it's a start. But through the synopsis, my brain is already working along that route and figuring out the events that will happen to my hero. me chills now to think of it!

I guess my point is that even the most die-hard pantser has plotting tendencies. There comes a time that in order to make the story believable, you have to research and know what you're talking about, which in turn leads you to subconsciously plotting!

Have any of you worked on road maps for your stories, or possibly to connect a series? Liz, Kari, Anita, you all write series. Maybe if you don't know exactly what will happen within each book, do you ever think ahead to how each book in the series will relate to each other? do you plot or map it out? We wannabes want to know!


Cassy Pickard said...

I hear you, Barbie Jo. I am a plotter, BUT once I get writing it takes over on its own. I find it a great combination--kind of have a road map but not go to such detail that the story feels written before I write. It's great to learn how others make it happen.

Anita Clenney said...

I think I started as a pantser and then moved more toward plotter, but I'm still somewhere between. I know where the story is going before I write, but it always changes.

For series, you do need to think ahead. With my warrior series, I know the characters and the over-arcing plot. There are some mysteries that won't be resolved until a few books later.

What helped me a lot is knowing the backstory on my villains and my warriors. That gave me a fuller idea of the "big picture." Then it's easier to know who's fighting what battle. And it helps if you can be specific enough to be authentic but vague enough to allow for the story to grow.

Liz Lipperman said...

I am an OCD plotter. I have to know where the story is going before I can write one word. When I sold, I sold on three chapters and a synopsis for the first book. I had no ideas, no titles, and certainly no clues what the other two books in my contract would be about.

So, I started with a title and a blurb and worked from there. I am in a group up of Plotting Princesses who help each other with plotting, and boy, do I need that.

For book three, I decided I wanted my girl on a cruise ship, so I emailed my editor and asked if I could do that. When she said yes, I came up with an idea. For book 4, I came up with a title and went from there.

Hope that helps, Barbie. So, you see, I may be an OCD plotter for each book, but I am a pantser when it comes to future books in the series.

Your new book idea sounds terrific, BTW.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

I WILL get you to come over to the dark side :-) haha just kidding. You need to do what works for you. I sometimes am a pantser but with my mysteries, I find I do more plotting. And I tend to plot as I go along. My scary sheets of organization don't start out that way...they evolve :-)