Category Archives: Panster Trials

P-pl-pl-plot-plotting?

WIP:  Agent of Fate

Today’s writing accomplishment lies in overcoming my fear of plotting.  I sat down with my whiteboard and the memories of my NaNoWriMo project and I plotted.

I had already laid out the basics (I usually sum up a scene with 1-4 descriptive words) so today was actually working with that information.  Where did it need work, where could I twist things more, what didn’t make sense and so on and so forth.  Had to use all four colours of my whiteboard markers, too.

Part of me still feels like I should do more.  The rest of me feels like I’ve got a good stepping stone to sorting out this WIP so I can get back to writing.

Guess I’ll find out when I start back into the writing.  But if nothing else, I’m a big step closer to figuring out how I plot.  And that, my dear friends, is the important part.

Okay, that and getting back on the writing train.  😉

Gearing Up for Learning!

Ah, the joys of feeling better combined with a lot of great classes in April.

I’ve signed up for 4 classes.  That’s right, 4.  All through two chapters of RWA.

What started it was getting a forwarded message about a couple of workshops being done by the Kiss of Death chapter.  After my Criminal Minds addiction (hey, a great tv show when you’re trapped lying on a couch is a mind saver), seeing their workshop on Behavioural Portraits of Criminal Predators was a no brainer.

Aren’t all authors profilers in a way?

They are also offering a course called Organic Writer’s Guide to Plotting as You Go.  I’m a panster, or organic writer, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to plot more in my books but drawing a serious blank.  It’s like it’s tailor made for me.  Thank you, universe!  Oh, and the Kiss of Death chapter, too.

And hey, since I was checking out this chapter, I thought, why not check out the fantasy, futuristic and paranormal chapter as well?

I blame them for offering a course on writing as a business, just after I’ve done my taxes and realized I need to understand the business side more.  Their fault entirely that I’ve signed up for their course.

And then, having now joined the FF&P chapter, they sent out a notice of a 2 week free-for-members editing class.  Editing, the bane of my existence.  Right up there with plotting.

It, too, was a logical must.

But now I look at what I’ve committed to and my eyes are bulging out, just a little.  It’ll certainly keep me out of trouble.

Why are all these perfectly-suited-to-my-circumstances classes offered at the same time?

The only thing left to do now is learn, learn, learn.  Ride that rollercoaster and not get motion sick.

I can do it.  I have faith in me.

Movies will Never be the Same

I don’t know if this is typical for pansters, but I personally have a hard time with editing.  I just couldn’t see how to do it.  After all, the words are there, written out in the way that seemed most appropriate at the time. How do I change them for the better?

The answer to that has been my quest for the past two years.  And I have learned much.  It even appears that some of it is has made an impression.  Maybe even usefully so.

A couple of the things that are currently stuck in my head to watch for:

  • Does the characters’ actions flow naturally from their natures?
  • What’s the conflict in this scene?  This question has some subsets about where the conflict is, is it external or internal, is this the moment when the protagonist has their call to action? Or the moment from which they can’t turn back?  Things like that.
  • Logical fallacies or other plot failures.

These are great things for me to watch for, things I need to work on in my own novel.

But now they’re in my head.  I’ve been infected!

There I am, cheerfully enjoying the, let’s face it, relative mindless entertainment of a movie, and what does my brain do?

Oh, look, there’s the protagonist’s save the cat moment.  Ah, and now the training montage.  And it’s about time for, oh yeah, the stakes just got raised.

I’ve turned into a dissector of movies, books as well, but for some reason it strikes me more with the movies.  Maybe that’s because it’s that one step removed from the novel-writing process (where obviously novels, aren’t).

My friends are sitting there enjoying (or not, but that’s the movie’s problem, not mine) the flick, and I’m sitting there debating the strengths and weaknesses of its plot and characters.  Was that realistic?  Did the writer force that situation or did it flow so naturally that you believe that it couldn’t have gone anywhere else?  Could they have made that conflict bigger?  The stakes higher?

So much for watching the movie and just enjoying it.

I feel like I have passed some barrier, that I have entered a new stage of my editing skills.

But will the joy in movies return?  Or will I always have the little voice in my head deciding the quality of the writing?  It’s very distracting.  And it’s not like I need another voice in my head.  😀

For now I’ll take the change in my editing perspective.  Maybe I’ll just need to start watching a better class of movies.

Nah, I just love watching things blowing up too much to ever give the action flicks up completely.  Guess I’ll just have to enjoy picking them apart, too.

Panster Plotting Trial #5

Yes, I’m a panster.

For those in the writing know, that means that I write my stories by the seat of my pants.

The opposite end of the spectrum are the plotters. They plan, they outline, they strike me as exceedingly organized, and they add the wordiest parts later.  As I understand it.

As a panster, I can only imagine the life of the plotter.  But when I do, I cringe.

Not that there’s anything wrong with it!!!  Not at all.  I’m afraid it’s not just my thing and the thought of working that way makes me feel like I’m back in high school, not in a good way.

I love to see my created world unfold before me, to let the words flow and the action come and discover as I write what is going to happen.

When that’s all done, though, the panster must become the plotter.

Except I don’t know how.  I remind you, it’s not my thing.

So it’s been trial and error.  Today’s trial we shall call trial #5.  I’ve tried a few other things already and perhaps one day I’ll blog of them, but today it’s #5 for discussion.

I began by taking my list of chapters, a really basic list.  Number, title, one word descriptions of where things took place (i.e. scene shifts).  Most chapters had 2-5 such words.  But that’s not the plotting aspect.  Well, maybe it’s plotting trial #2, One Must Have a Summary of One’s Novel’s Chapters.

The plotting aspect was adding symbol descriptions of tension for each chapter.

Arrows up were for a tension increasing chapter, a star for a holy-fuck-tense chapter, a watery squiggle for a more relaxed, catch-your-breath chapter.  Some chapters had more than one marker, like a main indicator plus a modifier.

I marked in the current state of feeling in the chapter and then went to Analyze Town.  A wonderful place that all writers should spend time in, imo.

I saw at the start of my novel a lovely anticipatory intro then a big tense chapter then a drop to catch our breath.

The middle was decently paced.

The end of the book had a generally higher level of tension but it doesn’t have the good variation, the rolling waves that bring readers up to the pinnacle of the climax.  Like a great round of sex, or love-making if you prefer.  You don’t want to just get all excited and then poof done.

You want the excitement to draw you in, tantalize you, until you have to follow the story further.

And then it gets more intense until you are feeling almost over-stimulated and so the love-making slows, letting you catch your breath, and relax just a little.

Why?

So that when you start getting seriously intimate again, you can handle more of the passion, can feel more intense sensations without hitting that too much stage.

By ratcheting up the intensity with periods of apparent calmness you can get to a much higher fever pitch.  And that means a much bigger orgasm in the end!

Well, unless the end moments fail to live up to the promise and then it’s just a frustrating fizzle.

I don’t want to finish my story with a frustrating fizzle.  That’s just depressing.

So trial #5 is telling me where to relax further, where to make the conflict and tension stronger.

Which means tomorrow…okay, saturday, it’s back into the story with much more clarity of what my next stage of editing will look like.

Booya!

~Samantha