Friday, July 1, 2016

Problems With Plotting

Delta Breezes...:

So, I’ve been plodding semi-steadily through the fourth draft of my mermaids & Neverland short story, and trying to get some other projects off the ground. It’s been slow going, guys. Partly because I’m feeling drained and a little discouraged, partly because summer isn’t usually a productive time for me, and partly because I can’t plot to save my life.


My idea-getting always begins with relationships. Not even specific characters, but a specific type of dynamic I’d like to explore. If I’m lucky, there’s enough to this relationship to suggest the kind of characters who’d be involved in it. For my Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling, I knew I wanted to explore the relationship between the sisters, plus the eldest princess’ interactions with the soldier. I was also lucky enough to have the basic plot already laid out for me. Most times, I don’t, and this is where things get tough.


I can’t plot, at least not as well as I’d like to, and never easily. For some reason, getting characters from point A to point B is a struggle for me. They’re so many times when I’ve written a decent opening scene before realizing that I have no clue where the story should go next. I’ve tried outlining, flash cards, and freewriting, but so far I haven’t found the magic bullet that will turn me into a plotting whiz. Mostly I just have to muddle through and hope I make it to the end.


Maybe I’m more of a character writer, but 100+ pages of nothing but pointless conversations and introspection do not a good story make. I love tightly plotted books, and I’d love to learn how to improve my plotting “skills”. So my question today is, how do you guys plot? Whether you outline or don’t, whether your stories are plot- or character-focused, I’d love to hear how you navigate from point A to point B.

Picture Credit: X

10 comments:

  1. Are we the same person? Because this is literally exactly what I struggle with. I'm always coming up with relationships between characters first, and I'm so into the characters that plotting is just NOT my thing.

    All that to say, I actually took a course this past year on how to write a novel, so I did a decent amount of plotting. What worked for me was completely fleshing out my characters first, since that's how my brain works, and I just wrote pages and pages of bullet points about them. Then I moved to the plot. First I wrote a paragraph just sort of summarizing the whole thing. Then I went to a separate paper and wrote a paragraph for the beginning, a paragraph for the middle, and a paragraph for the end, splitting it into thirds. Then I worked individual scenes. That helped me a lot. I'm still struggling with it, just because I'm TERRIBLE at plotting, but that's been my basic routine so far. Maybe that helps a little?

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    1. Probably not but oh well XD

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    2. No, that's really helpful! I like how you work your way from a basic summary to scene-by-scene outlines. I have trouble focusing on details, so maybe working on the big picture issues first would help. Thank you so much for commenting; I just might try this.

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  2. Hmm... It's a hard thing to describe! I wrote countless beginnings for stories, even getting so far as 20,000+ words in some cases and then just completely hit the wall and never went back. In the novel I just finished (the only one I've ever finished actually), it just felt different from the start. Like when I started to write it just CAME to me. I wrote a really brief outline when I felt like the novel might actually last, and then rewrote it a couple of times more throughout the novel,, but they were really more like titles than anything else. e.g. "Samantha's friends do x without her" and then sort of went with my head on it. I know that that's probably not very helpful but it somehow all sort of came together like that for me! x

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    1. Outlining as you go sounds like a neat idea. That way you could start with a simple premise and work your way forward from there. Thanks for the advice--and isn't it great when you have those stories that sort of magically fall into place? Like they've just been waiting for you to find the time to write them.

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  3. Plotting can be a struggle. For me, I generally write down a bare-bones list of things I want to include in terms of the tension/plot progression and then delete them as soon as I've written that idea. The less I write, the better, because the more I write, the less I actually end up writing. It helps to keep things in so I can get them all out at once. It's okay if you're struggling, though. Practice helps, and you always have writer friends to go to if you ever need help to toss ideas around with! :)

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    1. By the way: I tagged you for a thing! http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/2016/07/my-space-and-truth-revealed.html

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    2. If I try to plan too much, I don't get much writing done, either. I'm trying to look for a happy medium, so I don't end up writing myself into a corner but also don't structure it to the point that I loose my enthusiasm to tell the story. We'll see how it goes.

      Thanks for the tag!!

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  4. OH MY GOODNESS I'M THE EXACT SAME WAY. I always know the beginning and have the characters fully fleshed out when I start thinking about an idea, but getting to the end (and figuring out what the end even is) is an impossible task. I get plotter's block about 10 times more frequently than I get writer's block. We'll struggle together *sighs*

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. What is it with character-focused writers and plotting? You can never have both, I guess.Yep, we'll struggle together. 😃

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