Guest Post by Julie Arduini
One of the many things I enjoy about a writing community like ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is learning the various ways my peers work on a novel. Even within the contemporary romance genre, I haven’t seen two conversations that are exactly the same when it comes to plotting.
Plotting generally falls into two camps: Actual plotting and SOTP, Seat of the Pants. The plotters might have charts, character interviews, index cards lined up, and outlines. They might have a general idea where the story is going, or, know to the word count how every single sentence is going to lay out. The SOTP writers might sketch a few lines of what they want to see happen in the story, but they let the characters drive them. For them, they are along for the ride, writing as they go. It’s an individual decision that really has no right or wrong answer.
I definitely fall into the plotting camp. One year for NaNoWriMo I decided to try writing 50k in a month without plotting. I couldn’t do it. I love writing lists and outlines even for house goals, so it didn’t surprise me that I require the same organization for writing.
My plotting method involves a few resources. First, the best investment I made for my writing life was Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck’s From the Inside Out: Discover, Create, and Publish the Novel in You and the companion workbook, The Book Buddy. With each manuscript I go through the two and refresh key points in plotting and jot the ideas down. It’s usually here a good flow comes together in how I see the story starting, going, and finishing. Key events take shape. I also recommend the site from Susan May Warren, My Book Therapy. It’s a great community filled with writing resources, especially during the NaNoWriMo season.
Then, I open yWriter.
yWriter is a word processor which breaks your novel into chapters and scenes, helping you keep track of your work while leaving your mind free to create.
It’s a free download I use to put my character and plot notes in. I summarize chapters and write the scenes, and then export it when I’m ready to send to critique groups for revision and editing. I also have character pictures included, and yWriter allows notes for location, items, and I can choose POV for each scene. I tried the Scrivener trial and found it too much for me. yWriter is a good alternative without overwhelming me. I’ve used it to plot and write the first draft of three novels and the story I’m sending throughout 2014 to my newsletter subscribers.
I’m a visual person so the last resource I use is Pinterest. I create a board for each project that includes what I think characters look like, facts about the area, and items of interest that help me land in the story. It’s also a way for potential readers to join the process and create a good buzz about my work.
I encourage anyone with a story shaping in their mind to give plotting a try through the resources at My Book Therapy and yWriter. I’d love to hear what plotting techniques you utilize. Do you go through The Book Buddy to find the conflict, noble cause, and dark moment? Have you downloaded yWriter? Is Pinterest something on your plotting and writing checklist?
Julie Arduini is an award-winning writer and speaker who writes contemporary romance with personal themes of surrender, chocolate, and Upstate NY settings. She loves to encourage and mentor women of all ages. Her heart is to see everyone live free in Christ through surrender. Join Julie as she surrenders the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate.