Monday, 30 May 2011
TECHNIQUES FOR PLOTTING
Sometimes I have set scenes out on cards and shuffled them around a bit - I did Wasted like that, and the novel I've just finished: Brutal Eyes. (FYI, this is an ultra-gritty, shocking, modern YA novel. If Fleshmarket was about gruesome poverty, shocking conditions and brutal behaviour in the early 19th Century, Brutal Eyes is about gruesome poverty, shocking conditions and brutal behaviour in London, today, under our noses.) Anyway, I digress.
Sometimes I have launched straight into a plot without any planning at all. The Highwayman's Footsteps was an example - my editor phoned to ask what I wanted to write next and we came up with, "It'll be an adventure about highwaymen," and that afternoon I wrote the first chapter.
Sleepwalking and The Passionflower Massacre were two examples.
But I would like to plot and plan in a more organised fashion and I know some people have excellent methods. I have recently found two that I'm drawn towards so I bring them to you now.
Here is a pretty good explanation of the basic elements of a plot, by Glen Strathy. I've seen the same thing in a different format elsewhere and I can't remember where it first came from - perhaps someone can enlighten me? I spent some time playing around with these steps for my WIP and it threw up some useful directions. [Edited to add: Glen says this is from a theory by Melanie Anne Phillips and Chris Huntley. Thanks, Glen!]
I also like the idea behind the Snowflake method of Randy Ingermanson at AdvancedFiction. Specifically I suggest you scroll down to his Ten Steps of Design.
But here's the most important bit of his advice, and it's always been my advice, too: "...a lot of people find it useful. But you may not, and that's fine by me. Look it over, decide what might work for you, and ignore the rest!"
It's so important to do what works for you. I can't stand it when people tell writers what writing method they should use. All that matters is the result.
Don't forget my points about goals and obstacles in this post here.
I'd love to hear any plotting methods you've found work for you.
Think the tone of this blog has suddenly gone very straight and serious? I am just settling you down in time for the Very Important Interview that is coming on publication day on Wednesday... Be prepared.