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Thread: Learning to Plot

  1. #301
    Crazy Writer Chick Princess Amps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by writersherry View Post
    Have you tried using Jami Gold's beat sheets for plot outlining? They are great. http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/

    I have downloaded and used all of them to make sure my plot stays on track. Hope this helps! ;-)
    This is great! Thanks! I recently I had to cut my plot down due to obnoxious length, and it will be good to go over this and make sure the important points still align.

    To add to the conversation. I like to do a four act plot. Every act has an even length, which is good for the perfectionist in me. It's the same as a three act structure, but act two is cut in half, with the second half being when the bad guys close in. I also like the ending points of each act. End of act 1 is the point of no return for the MC, midpoint is a crisis that changes things up, and end of act three is the all hope is lost part.
    Find me on Instagram username is princessamps

  2. #302
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Plot is definitely one of the most difficult things to tackle! It can be very overwhelming especially if you have read JK Rowling or even Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon books). I really look up to those authors and the way in which they can make seemingly insignificant details major parts of the plot and then they bring them back up when you least expect it...It's so awesome! It's even cooler in book series.
    One method I've tried is drawing myself a timeline while I'm in the planning phase of the book. Once I get my main points, I can really work on attaching the "insignificant details" that will play an integral part somewhere down the line.
    I wonder if anyone has ever found out the way in which Rowling or authors like her go about planning out their works? I'd be very interested to find out!

    Brad S.
    greenwoodtales.wordpress.com
    Song of the Dawn

  3. #303
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    So much good information! Thanks for sharing!

    Brad S.
    greenwoodtales.wordpress.com
    Song of the Dawn

  4. #304
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin mkaylam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scifi_boy2002 View Post
    I never really think about the plot so I may be the worst plotter ever. That is, I don't worry about it. I begin with a simple plot and build on it. Actually, I think of the plot before anything else. I just naturally do it. It's like connecting the dots. I have a plot that the mcs must solve. Then I have a begining and there will be several obsticles they must go through before they get to solving the problem. You start at A then draw lines until you get to Z. Connect the dots. Everything in between are the obsticle keeping them from overcoming whatever the plot is.

    As I said, I may the worst plotter ever. But in all the critiques I've ever gotten, and I have many writing problems I need to work on, no one has ever said anything negative about my plot. I don't know, though.
    I tend to do the same thing and like you, I haven't had any negative feedback. I do however, tend to second guess my plot the entire time I am writing (causing me to rewrite the story multiple times before I feel confident in my plot). I think I'll try to actually plan it all out on paper for my next series to see if it makes my life easier haha.

  5. #305
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    Plot comes pretty easily for me, but I'm a pretty heavy themer. That is to say, plot is the vehicle for the themes in the story to take over. The different parts of the plot are like puzzle pieces for everything to come together. My weakness is making characters. I'm awful at that and can only make 1-2 characters for any individual story so I can never have a large cast unless I was content with a lot of incredibly generic characters.

  6. #306
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Fujuman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhoda Nightingale View Post
    It's just been pointed out to me that my lack of plotting skills might be one of things giving me problems with word count. (Too short.) I'll be lurking.
    I have the opposite problem with word count, but the same with plot. I put in too many details about how the characters feel or their personal histories that I overlook the main plot of the story.

  7. #307
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Mephist0paulus's Avatar
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    back in the day, my Lit II prof did a really good job explaining that some of the best novels follow a pattern called a plot snake. That is, instead of a mountain apex, there is a series of hills and valleys escalating to the climax, followed by a series of de-escalations down the back of it. so, if you are storyboarding, you can draw a snake pattern that has a basic triangular shape or add a peak for each MAJOR climax event, and then write some other escalating peaks and lulls that lead up to that. I'm trying to fit my own story to this as I am typing this. My biggest struggle is figureing out what should lead to what.

  8. #308
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    Hello, I hope I'm on the right forum here, I have written six books in total, one for adults, (well a 34,000ish word novella), and five for children, four in a series with two more to be written, plus short spin-off's, and a stand-alone book, with a completely different story, for me anything more than 20,000 words I consider to be fairly long. However, when it comes to writing there's one thing that always ends up making me want to pull my hair out in frustration, and that is whether or not I'm being, wait for the drum roll.....original, assuming, for the sake of argument my books were published, or even a publisher was to read them, I'd be concerned that my work wasn't 'original' enough. Of course, the last thing I would want to do is to be accused of plagiarising another author's work, even unintentionally, but how hard is it to write a piece of work that is completely fresh, and hasn't got the 'Simpson's did it,' remember that episode from South Park, or has something, even vaguely similar to someone else, where, as a writer you have that, fed-up 'back to the drawing board,' feeling? How do authors such as J K Rowling, Roald Dahl, and Stephen King come up with new and fresh ideas? That said, look at how many movies/TV shows have been made with themes relating to zombies or aliens for example, which have similar stories. Thanks in advance for your help.
    Last edited by Selkiegirl; 09-09-2016 at 09:17 PM.

  9. #309
    figuring it all out
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    This is an article in which one of J.K. Rowling's plotting methods is described. I used this same methodology for my latest trilogy and found it to be incredibly helpful. I did this for every chapter of all three books before I even started writing the first!

    http://www.openculture.com/2014/07/j...readsheet.html

  10. #310
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Bpituley's Avatar
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    Wow. So many ideas. Thank you to all who contributed. Now I'm off to explore methods and tools for converting my ideas and concepts into plots and stories.

  11. #311
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    I think plot can be summed up by a quote from an Author who's name I can't quite remember.

    Plot is the skeleton of your story. It needs to be there but it should never be visible.

    IN short, your plot is your hand in the work. It's important but if you put too much of your hand in, it becomes visible and the spelkl is broken. A good plot creates the illusion that there is no plot, that it is all organized chaos. The inevitable goal should never feel like a foregone conclusion. It should feel like a happy accident in a way.

    FOr every key action beat in your story. Ask yourself why is this happening. Answer honestly. If the answer is more because you need something to happen then.

    Have your characters fully fleshed out. Design them as people, not roles or archetypes. Flesh out their personalities to the point where they are capable of surprising you the author.

    Random events should never solve any pre-existing problem for the MC. They should however introduce problems that persist beyond the event. If the event miraculously solves a problem, it feels like Deus Ex machina and can change the reader's focus from figuring what the characters will do, to figuring what you the author will have them do.

    Mark Twain said. "Inflict no Inanities on your readers'. No miracles. No Hand of god, No sudden coincidences. No token twists. Follow the rules of the world you've created. if you must bend the rules of chance.. bend them at the bgining of the story. Have the random coinciudence be the instigating event. That way the rest becomes determined by the actions and reactions of your characters.

  12. #312
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    Quote Originally Posted by Libbie View Post
    I use the "write notes on cards, then shuffle them to mess with order" technique and it works well for me.

    As for plot, my suggestion is that you write the story -- all of the story; whatever wants to come out of you -- and not worry about plot for now. Once you've finished the story, go back and write a synopsis by summarizing each chapter in a paragraph or less. Then edit your synopsis down into a two-page document. You will have to cut out a lot of deadwood in order to pare it down to two pages. Whatever you cut from your synopsis (because it wasn't important enough to convey the very most important ideas/actions in your story), cut out of the manuscript as well, and then rewrite to make sure all the gaps are bridged.

    That should tighten up your plot quickly and easily! That's what I did with my current ms.
    This method works for me, much more intuitive. Everyone's different though, sometimes the plot or meaning comes out as you write though, is based on characters and the predictaments you put them in

  13. #313
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    Out of spiritual intent toward art:
    -write a plot outline without self reflecting
    or;
    -invent a plot behind the words while writing,
    as if free style rapping two different dialogues

    It may help to study history and falsified history in literature.

    One could
    write thorough character sheets complete with psych profiles and histories to illustrate personality stage progression,
    then use the history as the backdrop of the story.

    I consider Bradbury and Stephen King's comments,
    not to plot,
    __rooted in that creative energy is stifled by pride's intellectualization on plot development.
    Last edited by KBUpdikeJr; 06-16-2017 at 08:36 AM.

  14. #314
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KBUpdikeJr View Post
    Out of spiritual intent toward art:
    -write a plot outline without self reflecting
    or;
    -invent a plot behind the words while writing,
    as if free style rapping two different dialogues

    It may help to study history and falsified history in literature.

    One could
    write thorough character sheets complete with psych profiles and histories to illustrate personality stage progression,
    then use the history as the backdrop of the story.

    I consider Bradbury and Stephen King's comments,
    not to plot,
    __rooted in that creative energy is stifled by pride's intellectualization on plot development.
    Glad that all works for you. I, and others, prefer to write, putting an interesting character in an interesting situation and going from there.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  15. #315
    Writer of MG, YA and Adult Melody's Avatar
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    Wow, lots of good input. Plotting my third novel and writing the draft. For the first two I wrote the draft and then filled in. There's something about finishing that first draft, but I'm thinking there will be a lot less clean-up with better plotting, but tough to take the time to do it. Glad people are having good results.
    http://www.melodydelgado.com/ ROYALLY ENTITLED, Historical YA Romance and OOPS-A-DAISY, Humorous MG, published by Clean Reads - Out now on Kobo, B&N and Amazon, etc.

  16. #316
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    This thread is the best! Thank you all so much I have suffered with plotting issues for so long now and this stuff helped a bunch!
    Harry Newman

    More can be found at http://emotionalhygine.com

  17. #317
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    I tend to build my characters first, and, once they're fleshed out, think of events that would strike their personal cores. My shy characters tend to find themselves forced onstage, for example.

    It's worth saying that I don't particularly think myself great with plots, but this has at least allowed me to use my strengths to inform my plots.

  18. #318
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    I found the plot whisperer book very helpful in seeing the plot skeleton in a few popular books. I see my series as a time line of events that are like dominoes, each fall causes the next.

  19. #319
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Harris From Far Away's Avatar
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    My advice about plotting is that you should first think of what you want to say to your readers (example: Person A killed person B. Person A and person C are investigating then person C discovers it was person A and must arrest his friend, but he understands why he did it and lets him go. The end.). When you have what you want to tell to the readers in a sentence or two, write a short synopsis and see what characters will have big and small roles in the whole story, and which characters will not be that important, just a small role in it, to support the whole construction. Then write everything you can about each character. Write their biography, learn about their feelings, who they are, what is their role in the whole story etc. Then You start to write your story by connecting small stories of those characters, you follow them. I call this, dissection. You dissect the big story into smaller pieces where you tell the story about each character and his role in it. When you start connecting those small pieces in any order you want, everything will make sense, and the whole picture will come together.

    I'm sorry if this is a bit messy explanation, but I tried my best.
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  20. #320
    Elen Sentier ElenSentier's Avatar
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    Yay, good advice, thanks.
    behind every gifted woman there's usually a rather talented cat

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