By Jennifer Hudson Taylor
There are many different plotting styles. The detailed plotter, plans the story from beginning to end, outlining every scene with a goal, motivation, conflict and has each plot twist charted before writing the story. Some writers write a basic 3-5 page synopsis, while others write a chapter-by-chapter outline. Other authors use the index card method to record facts, plot twists, and rearrange them as needed when they begin developing the story. Seat of the pants writers make up the story as they go. They sit in the chair and just write. Chart plotters, answer questions, regarding character style sheets, and plot questions and fill out organized charts before they write.
Me? I've tried every method except the index-card method. I started out writing as the seat of the pants writer and converted to the Chart/synopsis plotter. I like beginning with my characterization chart. I need to know my characters before I can build a plot. Then I need to know the basic story line so I begin with a title and a TV script sentence. I expand that sentence into a paragraph like a back cover blurb story. From there, I write a 3-5 page synopsis. At his point, I can usually write the story, or at least the first three chapters and get the proposal off to my agent. If I build a chapter by chapter outline, I write 3-5 sentences for each chapter outlining the main plot points and twists for each each scene. I try not to be too detailed so I can allow enough room for creativity as I write.
I've read several books on writing and how to write fiction, but no source has proved to be a better teacher than trial and error. Sometimes it's necessary to learn by doing. Through my 10+ years before earning my contract on Highland Blessings, I've finally developed a style that works for me. Once you've completed a few novels, you'll have a sense of confidence--a routine of writing--that comes with experience. Highland Blessings was written by a panster, but it was revised and revised by a plotter.
By the time we reach the revision stage, the outline draft is done. At this point, we all become plotters in a sense, as we revise. We have ideas, notes, scene drafts and we rewrite from there.
If you are a writer, what kind of plotter are you? If you are a reader, I'm sure you've written papers for high school and college. What kind of plotter are you?