It’s a special Lots of Love Thursday this week. I love my SNI (shiny new idea), I love plot-ins, I love preparing for NaNo, and I love listening to my iPod on random (more on that later). Unrelated to this post, I’ll throw in that I love Halloween movies that I’m watching, I love having new episodes of Glee (although I’m caught up now), I love starting Christmas shopping early, and, hey, I even love this R&R I’m doing on Taylor-Made.
I decided to continue with the #NaNoPrep posts through October (in preparation for November when I might post, you know, once). I had a request for some plotting tips.
I’m going to start off by saying that every writer is different and what works for me is not necessarily what will work for you.
One specific question I got was “where should you plot?” And the answer, for me, is everywhere. But more specifically it’s anywhere that doesn’t require my mind to be dedicated to the task in front of me (like I’m making phone calls all week for work, and that’s hard to plot through). If I’m reading, writing, listening to something with a plot (audiobooks/tv shows on my iPhone), or talking about something not novel-related, I can’t plot. I can plot and sing, though. I do a lot of plotting while driving, while counting bugs in the lab, while working out, while getting dressed in the morning, and of course while I’m listening to music.
Of course, keep in mind, I am not an outliner. Someone who needs to sit down and write their plot down is not going to be able to do so while driving. In those cases, I would choose a location that inspires you or the same places where you like to write.
I do have very informal “outlines” of a sort. You all know by now how much I adore making soundtracks for my novels. At the beginning stages of plotting, I do a lot of listening to my music on random, “auditioning” each song for a place on my soundtrack. Once I start building up potential songs, I audition them further by playing that playlist while I consider my characters and whether those songs really fit a plot that works for those characters and that concept. I start to shape up the playlist into something resembling a soundtrack. A ha, the novel will proceed in the same order as these songs. Except, that never works out; songs get removed, replaced, added, moved all over. Even though it’s sort of like an outline, it’s a very flexible one. Sometimes I remove songs I adore because they just don’t work for how the characters feel or act.
Last year I also plotted using post-it notes. In this case I wrote down a bunch of plot points I wanted to include in the stories. This was flexible just like the soundtracks, but I prefer the musical “outline.”
There’s one more place that I like to plot, and that’s a physical NaNo plot-in. I started going to the plot-ins that my area was having two years ago. At the very least a plot-in can give you an opportunity to tell people about your book and watch them be all supportive. If you have a plotting problem, you can share it and see if anyone has an answer. My favorite plot-in game is to give everyone 10 post-its or notecards, and give everyone 10 minutes to write down up to 10 (or more if they want) ideas for dealing with your plotting problem. For example, for the Trouble books, I had some ideas for how Trouble could cause Bex problems, but I wanted to see what others might come up with. Everyone wrote down a ton of ideas for trouble he could cause, and it was so much fun. For my Twelve-Days-of-Christmas-themed novel, I had 4 “gifts” that I had no ideas for, and there were four people there that day. Each person wrote down 10 ideas for how I could deal with that gift.
Another plot-in game I’ve played has been to use a party game where you ask the attendees questions. In a party, it’s meant to be a conversation starter. But while plotting, your character is answering the question, and so you might learn something about them when forced to think about their answer to a question that might have nothing to do with your novel. But in answering that question, you understand them better.
But even if you play no games, there’s always talking about your novel and working out problems out loud with people who might think outside the box you’ve already placed your novel inside.
So there’s my advice. Plot everywhere you can, record your ideas any way that works for you, and go to plot-ins.
How do you plot for NaNo? Does it differ from how you plot for other novels?
Lots of love,