Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Plotting Trail

Check out:
Return to Fairy Cove
Season of Truth
Silence the Whispers
Sleepless in Montana
When Night Falls
Hidden Secrets

Start Here on The Plotting Trail: If you haven’t read Dwight Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, you just must. It’s not just another how-to, but is the foundation of many other how-tos.

If you write fiction, you need Swain's book. I’ve studied this book repeatedly and find some new inspiration each time.

But moving on to my 30-yr experience in Plotting: When I first started trying to sell, I soon discovered two things:
1.)   Publishers bought me for my stories and ability to churn fresh ones quickly.
2.)    I did not know how to plot well. That is, to write to a specific number of pages granted by the publisher, and to develop and round off the story within those allowed pages.

Okay, Big Note Here: Label Me a cross between a Plotter and a Plunger.

So I had the stories and plenty of them and I was regimented, fast and a good learner. And so it began…

My first editor wanted 10 paragraphs (this was for a category). Each paragraph was to have 2 sentences pertaining to: 1.) The story line 2.) the main protagonists. The midpt of 10=5. Chapters 1-3 introduced the characters and their backgrounds and the conflict. 3-5 developed the relationship/conflict. 6-9 more conflict/relationship. 10 the resolve and in romances, it’s happily ever after. A category basically translated to less than 200 pages, so that was 20 pages per chapter.

Then the Magical Flow Chart: The most help I’ve ever gotten to really see the linear idea was from a programming course. The big IF/THEN FLOW chart. If this happens, then that happens, right. The beginning is a straight end to the desired ending, but there are all sorts of diversions and If/Then’s and conditions built within the flow chart that always reach back to the main story line. Somehow, this clicked more of a trigger than anything else. We all have our little clicks/snags, something that grabs us, and a programming flow chart did it for me. If you haven’t studied one, take the time?

Moving right along, there’s the circle, where all questions begun at the first must be resolved by the end. Well, as writers we may want unresolved to lead to a series.

Add the historical Brown Bag programming stuff, basically where you’re using Framework to separate plot points into 3 or 4 different screen-play segments. I recognize that the 3-part screen play is a favorite, but I prefer the 4-part as I like that midpt.

Then, lots of other stuff. But then, PAGEFOUR outliner for PC. Pure Magic. I had everything I wanted on screen… if I wanted. No more opening and closing file folders for characters, scene snapshots, etc. PageFour was exceptionally helpful when planning a series and keeping track of essentials. I loved how I could click from one part of essentials to another easily. It saves to .rtf, and I wrote a number of short stories and articles on it, fine-tuning in Word.

Life sailed along just peachy until I changed from PC to Mac. (I’m loving Mac, btw.)

Then Disaster!!: PageFour my absolute must, was not available for Mac. Mac’s Apps have a few this and that’s, including a Cork Board, but nothing compared with PageFour (I almost begged them for a Mac version).

Scrivener is recommended by Mac people and I’ve tried that, but many of my books were already in progress and stuff had to be copied/pasted, stuffed in, worked around. Just recently, I’ve found how to work with it, so far as plotting, characters, notes, etc. But I still use Word, though Scrivener is set up for Pages. A hybrid Plotter/Plunger and software user, I have Pages, but still use Word.

Then even more critical (so far as I know today): Scrivener does not yet have an iPad version. They promise one in 2015. I hope so, because if you need Scrivener, TextEdit, etc. and Dropbox are the workarounds. Since I use my iPad as a working sidekick, I hope that dream comes through.

But PageFour was the ultimate of anything I’ve tried for handy-dandy and last I heard, they did not have plans to develop a Mac version. I did a huge amount of work on PageFour which is still good, saved in ye olde .rtf, including Title and Story Ideas, interesting words and a huge TOYBOX of developed ideas to pull from whenever I needed to churn fast. I highly recommend keeping your own TOYBOX.

The moral of this endless story is we change, stories change, work systems change. Get used to it and move on the best you can. :)
 Check out:
Return to Fairy Cove
Season of Truth
Silence the Whispers
Sleepless in Montana
When Night Falls
Hidden Secrets

1 comment:

Cavin Anderson said...

Everyone should have them. They have done a good job
love quotes