Plot: My personal approach

My Plotting is Messy

This week, we’ve discusses 9 ways to plot. So, how do I plot?
Basic story line. Two of these are probably worthless for me: writing from character and the Snowflake Method.

Chess2 I like to know from Tobias’ Master Plots if I’m trying for a character or action novel, so I’ll often review these universal plots in the beginning of a story. Then, I turn to Plot Patterns, looking for a structure which will force my characters to face horrible odds. (Me? I’d let them off easy!) I’m aware of the options out there, so I don’t feel like I have to create a story about two characters changing each other, such as Dunne advocates. On the other hand, I know it’s available if I need it. I do like to know the beginning and the end, to make sure they match up. I like to know the major change in character goals that occurs at the midpoint, such as Seigel advocates.

Hero’s Journey and Scenes. That gives me a basic story line. After that, my fall back position is the Hero’s Journey because it addresses both inner and outer conflicts; or, I like Dunne’s suggestion of double-sided plot cards. I like to have the novel sketched out in terms of the Hero’s Journey, knowing that about halfway through, I’ll change it and replot because I’ve written something different. Finally, I love Scofield’s scenes, the way she describes and lays open the heart of a scene. As I write, I try to consciously set up a scene for the maximum impact.

Revising? I have certain favorite ways of evaluating the effectiveness of my story, which is fully explained in my book, Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise. Like Zuckerman and Maass, I’m trying to lay bare assumptions about story and make sure I’ve followed them. After I’ve done that, I go to Maass for advice on how to and dig deeper.

Then, it’s off for rounds of critiques and major rewrites.

Comments? What is your basic plotting method? Is it as messy as mine?

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