How to be a Plotter

The following is a guest post from A Coffee, A Camera, A Creative Dream.  Sarah is an amateur writer, NaNoWriMo participant, mutt and guinea pig protector, night owl, coffee addict, and all around random girl searching for her place.

Plotting a novel in someways is a lot like writing a novel, it can vary from person to person. There are many theories, outlines and way to plot, and people who swear black and blue on which method is best and why. Some of these include

Although, I use bits and pieces of many of the above. I don’t really either. I have found my own way, which I encourage everyone to find; however, I will share how I plot.

Step One: Come up with an idea. This is honestly one of the hardest steps. Sometimes the idea lands in my lap, sometimes I struggle for it. But an idea is where it starts.

Step Two: Figure out my Characters. For me this is very important. My characters are one of the solid bases in my stories, I leave room for minor characters but my main characters need to have names, personalities and basic description before I can move on.

Step Three: Free Scribble. Exactly how it sounds I take blank pages and just scribble down ideas as they come to me for the story. No form or flow necessary, just things that come to mind. Sometimes it’s a major plot point or a conflict, sometimes it’s something as simple as the description of a house or a line a character might say.

Step Four: Plot By Chapter: I take a new notebook (I really like using Moleskine) and leave a few pages in the front (usually for an ongoing character list) and start with Chapter One, I make points of what I think will happen in the chapter (sometimes in order, sometimes not) and then move on to the next Chapter. I also keep “world notes” in the back few pages of the notebook, things that could pertain to the story as a whole.

Step Five: Leave Room For More. I try to leave room for development and growth while I am writing. I still enjoy the surprise of writing and finding new things while I am writing, and things that can’t show up in the pre-writing stage need to still be there.

And that’s how I plot, pretty simple.

How do you plot? Do you use a method? Or do you simply wing it?

-SE