To Plot or Not to Plot

I’ve been working on plotting a new story and my heroine and hero and not speaking to me. I can’t seem to get in their heads and figure them out, and I really can’t figure out why. Why don’t I have a passion for these two imaginary people? I have a great story idea, but these two are not cooperating in the least.

This story I’ve been thinking about is one of a series that I want to write. The series is about three sisters, one book for each sister. Maybe I am starting with the wrong sister? I don’t know, but I need to do something about it. Maybe I should start plotting a different sister’s story and see what happens. Or maybe if I plot them all simultaneously I would get a better feel for the story world as a whole. I don’t know.

Has anyone ever experienced weirdness like this? Has anyone ever plotted several books at once? Or is it just me and my weirdness?

I’m hoping to spend some good quality time with My Book Buddy (an awesome MyBookTherapy product!) this weekend and see if I can come up with some stuff to work with. Wish me luck!

p.s. I lost .8 pounds at my Weight Watchers weigh in last night. Sigh…after being hungry A LOT this past week, I just knew I had lost more. Grrrr…..I may have to break down and exercise too.

21 responses to “To Plot or Not to Plot”

  1. That's great about the WW! A woman at hubby's office lost a ton of weight just counting fat. (I think she sticks to 10grams a day)

    Well, it's hard to say. If you're not feeling the character then it is going to be hard to write. Sometimes brainstorming and talking about it (with your buddy) gets the juices flowing. Hope that happens!


  2. On a parallel, if I'm having problems with a piece, it helps to leave it, give it a rest and do something else. As to your .8 loss. Stoll a loss. Bet you look great.


  3. I think your two characters will feel jealous if you turn away to plot a different book. They'll watch your for a very short time then whisper to you. If you continue to ignore them they'll leap into your thoughts and say, “Hey! Remember us? We're important too!” Then all will be well.


  4. Yay for the Book Buddy. When I first started reading your post, my head went immediately to MBT because I love their craft books. For me, the Book Buddy helps me plot, but still leaves me lots of wiggle room for those seat-of-the-pants moments. 🙂


  5. I've got my book buddy with me today too! 🙂 I usually have an idea of the series and scenes for each book, but not the full plot.

    Sometimes, I have to pretend I'm not plotting. When I think too hard I get so freaked out that “it has to come” my imagination suffers. I usually go for a walk, listen to music and not try to figure out who they are but what they are doing and as the scene comes to life, I can use this to help me figure out WHO they are!

    Congrats on the 8 lbs! That's amazing!


  6. I am so excited about your new stories! I've been struggling with really getting to know my characters lately. So you know what I did? Shh…don't tell anyone 🙂 I stopped plotting. Just for this story. I plotted out in detail four chapters then stopped, realized I knew nothing about my characters, and just started writing and spending more time with my characters in my head.


  7. When I hit a roadblock in my writing, I take a walk. It's amazing how getting outside with no computer and no Internet can free the mind. Helps keep me fit, too.

    Congratulations on your WW success. The number may not have been as big as you'd like, but you made progress, and that's a good thing. =)


  8. Here's my thing: I can't write a character if I don't have a handle on their “voice”. If I can't make him/her talk to the other characters in a way that is wholly his/her own, it's hard to feel much passion for them, ya know?

    Maybe you are starting with the wrong sister, but maybe you simply don't know her well enough yet. I have used character journals before to great effect when I am working with a large cast of characters, just to understand the differences in voice.

    More often, I don't start writing until the character “speaks” to me (sounds hokey, but it's true) enough that I know how they talk, and, more importantly, how they act and react to situations. It's tough if you're a dyed-in-the-wool plotter, but sometimes I find it helpful to stop thinking about the plot and start thinking about characterization. Soon enough you'll find ways that the two intertwine.

    Good luck!


  9. Thanks, Jennifer! I probably do need to spend more time with the character before I give up on her…at least for a season. 🙂


  10. CJ, you flatterer, you! 😉 I am looker better…not great, but better! lol


  11. LOL…Mary you are so funny! I love you and all your wisdom!


  12. I really want to get the MBT book on characterization…Deep and Wide, isn't it? Of course, the one on romance looks awesome too. I think I need to get them all.

    Have you been to one of their retreats?


  13. Uh, that is .8…point 8…not 8 pounds! Yeah, I would be thrilled with 8, but nope…just the .8. But I suppose some progress is better than nothing!

    I think that has been part of my problem…I'm kinda freaked out by the plotting. I need to find out who they are and just do a little daydreaming, I suppose.


  14. Cindy, that is so interesting! So when you let go and just wrote, did you write stuff you can keep? I think part of my problem is I don't want to have to trash a good portion of my ms because it has no plot. I feel like I know too many rules now to write freely. grrr…


  15. I love hearing about your walks, Keli. You inspire me all the time! And yes, you are right. Any progress is good!


  16. Thank you, Tere. What you said really made a lot of sense. What do you do in your character journals? Interviews? Rambling thoughts of the characters? I'm very curious.


  17. Ooh, Sherrinda! I just start writing to get in their heads. It really…really helps! You can always change those first chapters if they aren't well written, but at least you'll get to know your characters and spur on those creative juices!! Love your ideas!!!


  18. I also use a voice journal (idea courtesy of James Scott Bell in The Art of War for Writers). I have a general idea of who my characters are and what has happened in their life, but I don't “feel” them until I do a voice journal. I start by having them tell me their name (this sounds so weird!) and let them ramble from there. I have been AMAZED at what comes out. It's kind of spooky, actually. It has been very helpful and has deepened my understanding of who they are and why they do what they do.

    I just joined MBT and I am curious to find out what My Book Buddy is – sounds intriguing…

    Yay for .8 lbs. it's a start in the right direction and next week will even be better.


  19. I'm going to have to just jump in and do that, Angie. Either start writing or do the character journal that others have mentioned. 🙂


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  21. Gabrielle, I'm so glad you joined MBT! I've been trying to listen in on the video conferences on Mondays and Thursdays. The Thursday ones are really helpful, I think.

    The Book Buddy is really a book full of worksheets to help you put a book together. I bought the Inside and Out workbook which really explains on a deeper lever The Book Buddy. And I think the other book, Deep and Wide, is all about characterization. (I don't have that one yet.) I bought the pdf form of the The Book Buddy, then sent it to Office Depot and they printed it. I put it in a binder and am using it for my new WIP. It really is a HUGE tool!


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