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How Do You Plot Out Your Story? : Conversation question • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
Vaterstix
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby Vaterstix » Thu Jun 26, 2014 6:50 pm

I really enjoy reading how other writers go about their process for writing and storytelling.

For me, I start with a character, setting and situation that intrigue me. I don't start writing right away, though. I let the idea marinate in my mind for several days and let it grow and shape itself. It's not until I have a clearer picture of how that sequence will progress do I begin writing. Some details are very bare but as I write, creativity's gears turn and I let the rough draft come out on the "paper" organically. All the holes and stains are worked out when I revise.

From this point, I let a lot of the plotting come by different forms. Sometimes, I will outline more as a means for making sure that I record notes and things I don't want to forget. Other times, I just write and see where the story goes. In my mind, there is no right way to plot or write a story. It starts with an idea and every writer has their own process to follow, which is what I always encourage.

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MookyMcD
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby MookyMcD » Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:18 am

I'm increasingly discovering that the answer to this question depends heavily on the story.

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Crono91
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby Crono91 » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:09 pm

Like all the above, I usually get a random idea and expand upon it--usually helps to go on long drives.

From there, I'll typically let a week to a month float by with the ideas bouncing around. This helps a lot with dreaming up sub-plots that mix into the main story perfectly, and so on.

Then I go into the outlining phase. Typically I'll outline 2-3 chapters a day, bulleting the main sequences in the chapter.

After that, I'll just start writing. Usually 2,000-4,000 words each sitting.

I don't usually create character graphs or descriptions before hand, because all that stuff changes mid-write; however, my current story I decided to start with three character graphs, because I needed all of their backstories and eventual over-comings to merge at a single climax.

As a college student, I don't really have the money or time, but two of my favorite things to do is grab an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts and drive on the Parkway--which is this long strip that runs along the water and between beautiful forest. It's great creativity booster. Or before I write, drive to get my iced coffee and come home. That 20 minute drive helps gets the juices going, and its nice sipping down on some tasty coffee while writing. :D
Be proud of your mistakes when they form from blinding passion. But now edit them.

cynfranks
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby cynfranks » Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:48 am

I can say, unless it is a commission and even then I think this is true, all my story ideas start with an image. Some start with something I actually see, some from a picture and some from an image in my mind evoked by a word or words. Can you guess which are the most powerful? Yes, the images evoked in my mind by word or words.

The first novel I wrote came from a double silo barn I saw while driving.

A play a wrote came from something the director of my PD Unit said that caused me to picture my mother saying, "I've enjoyed every minute of every cigarette I've ever smoked." To my knowledge my mother never uttered those words, but what a line it was when the play was performed.

My current YA novel came from a tweet a friend sent about the last two names of the day sent out by Nameberry, Dickran and Cathmore. As soon as I read the names, an image was created in my mind and the rest of the story proceeded from that image. Actually, the entire story was there instantaneously. It's just a matter of getting it down on paper in way other people can understand.
Last edited by cynfranks on Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ask yourself, "What would Dickens do?"



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atwhatcost
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby atwhatcost » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:29 pm

I discover a character that won't let me go. (I'm not quite sure how that happens, but it often feels like they come to me and nag at me until I notice them.)

Then, I figure out where the character is in growth and where he/she needs to grow. What does he/she act like at the end or how does he/she change? Then I figure out what caused the change.

So in my case, it's character first, a before and after shot, then a plot to cause that.
Lynn

Working on my first novel.

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LMGilbert
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby LMGilbert » Tue Jul 22, 2014 9:33 am

The first time I tried to create a plot outline for a story was for NANO, my only real "novel" plot which is probably going to take a long time for me to complete even a few chapters. Then, I felt the process was helpful and used it again for a short story, to help me work out how to link up to my ending. The more I actually sit down and write, the more I see myself as a short-story writer who zooms through the first two-thirds of the story, then agonizes over how to finish; and the process is similar to what shadow walker & others have described, thinking and typing at the same time. This process works well for short stories; if I want to finally write my novel I think I will plan to use my plot outline as a jumping-off point, but I won't force myself to stick to it if something better comes up through the work of writing and inventing all the details.

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Sharon51
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby Sharon51 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:04 pm

Has anyone tried the snowflake method?

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James A. Ritchie
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Wed Jul 30, 2014 1:52 pm


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mammamaia
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby mammamaia » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:26 am

using any formula for 'creative writing' is bound to be counterproductive, imo...
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Christopher Sly
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Re: How Do You Plot Out Your Story?

Postby Christopher Sly » Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:36 pm

I didn't even know I was writing a novel the first time. I was unemployed and living on my brother's couch. One day I pulled out his typewriter and scrolled in.

Jason Kraft swore.

Two months later I came-to sitting on the backseat of my car on the beach in the Refwood National Park, with my typewriter between my legs, looking down at page 500.

"The end."

For my second novel I waa pissed off about government response to the early AIDS crisis, so I came up with the idea for "The Virus", an incurrable STD that super charged your immune sytem, but also caused sterility. I plotted that story for a long time, and got to know the 4 main characters as friends before I got started, at which point I threw out the outline and felt my way forward. (I later paid an agent $400 to critique it. He called it a "pile of bricks".)

My third novel, I was upset with the theory that 9/11 meant "anything goes". I wrote Hero Nation during the 2004 election cycle and I laid it over the Joseph Campbell template for the Hero's Journey. Before I began, every chapter had a one sentence story line. By the time I finished it felt like I had gone overboard with the complexity of the narrative structure.

You càn download my second and third novels Boiling Point and Hero Nation free on my website from the Library Page, and any othèr of my works I refer to, including a story called "Who is Christopher Sly" that opens with me waiting for the mailman to deliver that critique.
"The word that can be spoken is not the true word." Lao Tzu

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