by Ann Lee Miller
I wrote two novels without plotting. Backtracking to fix things as a result of ninth hour twists drove me crazy. I resisted outlining and plotting because I’m not naturally an organized, methodical person. But when editors praised my writing, yet rejected my books due to plot weaknesses, I had to learn some new tricks.
I tried Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method (available free at http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/) with my third novel because Randy clearly explains each step. I liked the method because it was a compromise between plotting and not plotting, but I ended up with a novel half the length I desired. I used Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days to help me fatten up my story by weaving in more subplots. I found her method to be complex and tedious, but effective.
For my fourth novel I borrowed much from Weisner—completing all research and mapping out each scene in the book before starting to write—and ended up with 30,000 words in my detailed outline. While this type of plotting is arduous at best, I am completely satisfied with the result and intend to live out the rest of my writing days as a born-again plotter.
I also use Angela Hunt’s plot skeleton to insure each of my characters has hidden and obvious needs, an overarching goal, inciting incident, escalating conflict, climax, blackest moment, moment of decision, lesson learned, and resolution. [See diagram below.]
Anyone who shares my internal lack of order may benefit from imposing organization on their writing by outlining.
Everyone who leaves a comment with their e-mail address will receive a free e-copy of Kicking Eternity, also from the New Smyrna Beach Series.
Writer, Ann Lee Miller earned a BA in creative writing from Ashland (OH) University and writes full-time in Phoenix, but left her heart in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where she grew up. She loves speaking to young adults and guest lectures on writing at several Arizona colleges. When she isn’t writing or muddling through some crisis—real or imagined—you’ll find her hiking in the Superstition Mountains with her husband or meddling in her kids’ lives.
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