Inciting Event Redux

In the middle of the month, Faith talked about inciting events. She’s dead on and if you’ve forgotten what she said, go read it again. I’ll wait.

At the time of reading that article, I was in the middle of redrafting the second half of my current book. I’d had to rip out about 15K words from the draft and shift gears because I’d taken the wrong road. A common problem of pantsing. I’d reached the point where I needed to plot, not only this novel, but a great deal of the rest of the story.

I ripped back to just around the halfway point and started to work through all the players, the connections, the elements that needed to be dealt with, and generally braiding the story together. You might be asking, what does that have to do with the inciting event at the beginning of a book?

I’d […]

Continue reading Inciting Event Redux

By the seat of my pants

You’ve heard the discussion before, I’m sure. Is pantsing better or plotting? And I’m here to tell you, I have no idea. I can tell you my experience with both and what I wish for and what I’m doing now.

I used to plot my novels. Don’t get me wrong. I was no John Pitts*. I did not outline a very detailed way at all. It amounted to mostly this happens and then this and then this and so on and so forth. It was easy. Looking back, I think that may be because either I jumped into the story before it was fully formed and did a lot of pantsing on the way, the stories were a lot smaller than the ones I tell now, or, and this one is the most likely, I didn’t have a fully formed sense of the world and characters and so I filled […]

Continue reading By the seat of my pants

Quick-Tip Tuesday: Finding Balance Between Plotting and Pantsing

Whether to outline or whether to just write the story — put another way, to plot or to pants.

This is an ongoing discussion among writers, one that we’ve discussed here in the past. It’s actually more relevant for me right now than you might know. I’m well into a novel — I’ve written more than 100,000 words on it already — that I did NOT outline. And now I find myself struggling with the plotting as the book approaches its climax.

So, I must be about to give you a sermon on the virtues of plotting and the evils of pantsing, right?

Well, not entirely. The truth is, while I’m scuffling a bit right now, writing the novel has been fun. Because I haven’t been working from an outline, the discovery of each new plot point has come as something of an epiphany. I’ve been experiencing the story as […]

Continue reading Quick-Tip Tuesday: Finding Balance Between Plotting and Pantsing

David B. Coe: The Plotter Pantses

I’m a plotter, and I have been for most of my career. I don’t outline every detail of my books. Far from it. I tend to write loose outlines that touch on the significant plot points of my narratives but leave the details — dialog, specific action, descriptions, etc. — to the moment when I’m actually writing. In other words, I’m a hybrid, as so many of us are: I plot a bit, but I also allow much of my writing to happen organically.

I think that my penchant for doing at least some outlining is, at least in part, an outgrowth of the kind of books I’ve written through my career. I started with big epic fantasies — multi-book story arcs, lots of sub-plots, lots of point of view characters. If I hadn’t outlined, I would have gone crazy trying to keep track of it all. And then I […]

Continue reading David B. Coe: The Plotter Pantses

Lisa Mantchev: On Plotting

The eternal plotting question:

ARE YOU A PLANNER OR A PANTSER?

In case you are unfamiliar with the latter phrase, “pantsers” (which isn’t a real word, I want everyone to know) are those who write “by the seats of their pants.”

I would say that I’ve got a foot in each camp and thumbs in both pies, because I use a weird combination of scripted improvisation. Usually, I start out with a massive outline, and but at some point—usually at the 20K mark or so—the entire train derails and just keeps chugging across the fields, leaving me to run after it, yelling “hey, wait for me!”

I think there’s something to be said for deviating from the path and taking joy in the journey, though. I have come to terms with the fact that I am now and probably always will be utterly unable to produce a stellar first draft. […]

Continue reading Lisa Mantchev: On Plotting

Beth Bernobich: Hello, Story

As I said in my last post, not all writing advice works for all writers. We each find the approach that works best for us, and for the project at hand. But! I do believe it’s useful to share our approaches with each other. Maybe we add a new technique to our writer toolkit. Maybe we try out this other technique and learn it doesn’t work for us.

So in the spirit of sharing, here is how I turn my ideas into stories.

Ideas. Those wispy scraps of “what if” that float through our brains. Most of my ideas are fragile things that never survive discovery. That death of the story can be quick, as quick as me noticing the idea, only to have it fade into nothing. Or I might jot down a few notes about a possible story, to find the story feels dead in my imagination. But […]

Continue reading Beth Bernobich: Hello, Story

Lara Morgan: Plot Wrangling and Highlighter Love . . .

One of the hardest things, for me, when writing a book is keeping the plot straight; by which I mean keeping track of it and making sure it makes sense. Which is probably why I always, and I mean always, wonder why I persist in writing series. And series with lots of characters with intersecting plot lines. The book I’ve got coming out now, Betrayal, is the second in my epic fantasy series, The Twins of Saranthium. It’s set in a world of deserts and jungles, and has a vast cast of characters, including ancient resurrected gods seeking to enslave an entire people, warring desert clans and serpent riders who have lost control of the beasts that once protected them. Plus of course the main characters, the twins, who must find a way to stop it all. It is also the middle book in the trilogy and gave me more […]

Continue reading Lara Morgan: Plot Wrangling and Highlighter Love . . .