I don’t plot—well, I’ve tried, but I can never work out what scenes I need until I’ve written the characters and I know how they work. With my first novel Mischief Maker I just WROTE, then did little bits of research as I came to it.
I knew pivotal points, I knew where I wanted to end, and the important stuff along the way, but I didn’t know how I would get there.
I would write meandering scenes where Jamie and Liam would eat a lot and drink enough tea to keep PG Tips in business–all to get the next pivotal point that I had in my head.
This worked and it didn’t. I came up with a few good scenes just by writing, but I cut over 10k of ‘filler’ scenes out once I finished my first draft. By filler I mean chapters or paragraphs that didn’t have a point, they didn’t take the characters anywhere, nor did they help the characters grow. They were merely me trying to pass time to get to the next interesting bit.
Now I’m writing the sequel. And again I know the general plot, know how it ends, and pivotal points along the way, but when I felt myself get to ‘filler’ spots I stopped and instead of writing these I just wrote the next Big Scene.
I know I’ll have to rework them a lot to make sure everything flows, but I also feel like I don’t have anything pointless in it, and it will be a lot easier to write the in-between bits once I know what they are connecting!
I’m not sure about you, but I always like to read writing guides (not that they help much because I’m not a plotter! Plus, my memory is awful so I don’t remember enough detail for it to be that helpful!)
When I was half way through Animal Lark 2, Save the Cat Writes a Novel came out, so I thought I’d give it a go. I have to say I’ve really enjoyed it and feel like it will help me with those pesky fillers as well as keep momentum going.
I carried on writing the chapters I was excited about, vaguely linear, but not too worried if they weren’t when I discovered Trello –I think it was recommended by one of the many authortubers I watch though obviously I can’t remember which one!
I have to say–I love Trello! I’ve used it for my story world and character bios, which is helpful to keep track of the little details when you’re writing a series.
But in a moment of madness I decided to create a board with the steps of StCWaN so I could access them easily and see how Animal Ark 2 fits into it.
Using this method I’ve now got a visual of the storyline, with chapters I feel are important for each section, it’s even colour coded by act and if I’ve written the chapter or not–I’ve actually written more than I thought I have!
I have tried to use Scrivener before, I even brought it for my desktop and iPad but it seemed so complicated to do things I wanted to do quickly and then they both stopped syncing with each other that I gave up; I really liked how you could move chapters around so I was ecstatic that I can do this on Trello.
It’s simple to use, but I can use it on my phone, laptop, iPad and it doesn’t have issues.
I now know where I’m going and have a good idea of what will push the story and my characters along without going too far off track.
I doubt I’d be able to plot like this if I hadn’t already written the first act and didn’t know the characters and world so well.
I wouldn’t now call myself a plotter after so many years of pantsing, then plotting and failing m, but I think I could be called a partway plotter!