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I want to learn how to PLOT

I've always been a seat-of-the-pants writer -- sure, I have a general idea of where I'm going, but things usually change dramatically. I don't understand how some writers can write out an outline and have it come out being anywhere close to useful -- it seems impossible to me, and it makes me jealous.

So I am trying to learn how to do it. There has to be a way, right?

I've seen a few outliners suggest watching a TV show and then plotting it out on paper, as an exercise. I may try that.

But the closest I've come to success with this was when I was forced to write a synopsis for the East Texas Range War novel back when I only had 3 chapters. The synopsis actually came out *relatively* close to reality. But it was also one of the most painful things I've ever done, and it still didn't help me fill the plot holes or fix major structural problems (I could have done it, I guess, but I just didn't know they were problems yet).

So I'm going to try to write up a synopsis for this Urban Fantasy book and see if everything comes out okay. I don't have high literary aspirations for it, and it will do well with a linear plot, so I think this is a good novel to try it on.

The Dao/Good Lord/Great Spirit/Whatever knows that I have to do something to speed up my novel writing process if I ever want to even DREAM of making a living at this.

Any advice out there?


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2012 01:05 pm (UTC)
I watched all 10 seasons of Stargate. They do have the formula down.
May. 25th, 2012 01:59 pm (UTC)
My plotting took a giant leap forward when I took a workshop from a screenwriter. (His name was Michael Hauge, but I don't think *he* was the key to my success; rather, thinking in terms of "acts" and inner character development matching outer action was what got me over my plotting hump.)

I'd suggest, therefore, that you look at some of the writing materials out there about "how to write a screenplay." For me, that's more successful than studying existing media that may or may not have gotten it right...
May. 25th, 2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
Outlining is a tricky business. Mostly, that's where all the "fun" of writing is. YOu can let ideas run wild, and if you decide you don't like them you can go back and change them and it isn't a huge investment in time or energy. If you're 1/2 of the way through a novel and decide that it would be better if there were only two hobbits instead of four, well, that's an aweful lot of work.

BUT, speaking of work, once you have an outline that you are really happy with the fun's over, and from there on out it's just the work of putting words on paper. The whole project can kind of lose its luster at that point.

Tricky business.
May. 25th, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC)
So ... you want to play some Go games with me? :-D :-D :-D


Edited at 2012-05-25 06:29 pm (UTC)
May. 25th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
A bit more specific: in forcing myself to "read" the Go board, it somehow has allowed me to better program.

All last year, I have also been working on reducing my stories to three sentences. Then to a single sentence. The outline is much easier after that.

May. 26th, 2012 01:00 am (UTC)
How long does it take to learn to read a Go board? And how do you learn? Coz I'm game, but I am impatient ;)
May. 28th, 2012 04:30 am (UTC)
It took me two years to get to this point.

It took a friend of mine's five games with me to develop to my skill from scratch.

I guess if you're impatient, this clever plan will fail ;-)

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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