I’m searching for a non-cliché way to say how happy I am to be guest posting here at WITS, but Margie Lawson would pass out at everything that has popped into my mind. 🙂 Thanks so much for asking me, y’all.
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Several years ago, my friend Jerrie Alexander and I took Rose’s Plotting Bootcamp as a free on-line course because we signed up early to attend the NOLA Conference in Louisiana. The conference was excellent, but this course was awesome.
This is what they presented:
Picture a table about 6 sections across and 8 down. You can make them whatever size works for you. Across the top is Scene 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 etc.
Down the left side of the Bootcamp example were these words: Use a row for each
- External Plot
- Romantic Plot
- Heroine’s Character Arc
- Hero’s Character Arc
- Hero’s Character Arc
- Subplot 1
- Subplot 2
- Subplot 3
- Subplot 4
Well, after a couple of attempts, I still couldn’t get the hang of it. But it did seem like a tool that might help me keep up with my story — a way that allowed for fact checks so I didn’t spend hours scanning backwards through the text. Have you ever done that?
Pantsers, hang with me a bit more and you’ll see how this tool is good for you, too.
I used to call myself a plotter, but somewhere I ran across the term “plotser,” which I think describes my process better. Yes, I make character charts figuring out all their backstory, why they do what they do, what they want, that whole GMC thing. (And thank you Clover Autrey for your GMC questions!) I use a Bootcamp chart for Internal and External Conflict. This chart gives me the flow of the action. I work through about half the story that way before I ever start writing.
Let me just show you an example. This is an abbreviated table for chapter one from VERMONT ESCAPE, which in July celebrated its first Birthday and will come out in print version in September!
Vermont Escape Chapters & Scenes
|Chap 1 p. 1-19||S1 p 1-3 Wed 4/24 evening. Woodstock Inn Suite||S2 p 3-10 Thurs 4/25morning Inn Dining room||S 3 p 10-18 4/25 J’s office, street, his Mother’s||S 4 p.18-19 4/25 Evening Anne’s home|
|POV Jill. Discovers note and flashdrive from her deceased father.||POV Jill Meet Karen, stash Flash drive in bank box. Dog saving scene. Goes to Anne’s store, meets Jerrod. Karen suggests Jill buy store. Anne invites to supper.||POV Jerrod Works on contract, vists with Sheriff. J. wants Mom to sell to Vermonter, goes to house to take her out to apologize for behavior in store. He stays for supper, is attracted to Jill||POV Jill at dinner, she’s upset to be attracted to him, agrees to go to store next morning. Asks Karen/Tim not to talk about murders of her husband and father.|
I use landscape for these tables rather than this portrait layout.
The date, time, and location of the scene are super helpful to me so I don’t have something happening before it can have happened. Because I had a POV problem early on, I note the POV character to make sure I don’t head hop and that I stay in one character’s head a decent length.
The basic action shows up this way, too. I can check to see when character knew a fact or did something at a particular time. When did the sheriff arrive? It’s all there.
Now, Pantsers, I hope you’ve stayed with me. Here’s my confession:
I don’t write this until I’ve finished writing the scene or chapter.
Do you see how this can be a useful tool for you without messing with your creativity? You don’t have to fill it out after every chapter if you’re on a roll and those words are pouring out. But every couple of chapters for sure you should do this the purposes of fact checking later.
If you’re a really good plotter and can write it out before hand, which is what Rose’s Plotting Bootcamp suggests with all the other categories I listed above, good for you. I tried, but had to keep changing it as I wrote the story, which became time consuming. Humm. Maybe I pants more than I think?
So how about you?
Some combination of the two?
What do you call yourself? If you don’t use this kind of visual to keep up with the story, what do you use? I’m always looking for a good tool to make this writing job easier. Thanks so much for letting me visit.
Marsha R. West’s first published book, VERMONT ESCAPE, was e-released by MuseItUp Publishing in July 2013. TRUTH BE TOLD e-released by MIU May 2014. She’s sold a third book to MIU scheduled for e-release Winter 2014/15. That book SECOND CHANCES is the first of a planned series about four women who met when they were kids at summer camp. In SECOND CHANCES, the hero, Mike Riley, played a supporting role in VERMONT ESCAPE, which releases in PRINT in September.
Visit Marsha at her website for more info. She’d love to hear from you.