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marguerite

Storyist for Plotters (and Pantsers)

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Thought some of you—especially those of you who know me as an unregenerate pantser who couldn't figure out why anyone needed plot points for my first two years as a beta tester ;)—might enjoy my recent blog post, "Pantser Learns to Plot, Courtesy of Storyist."

 

Thank you, Steve, for creating a program that supports a writer's growth. :)

Off to Chapter 1!

Best,

Marguerite

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Hello M

 

Good post.

 

I have to consider myself a Panster but you have made me rethink this way of working. Now I might have to learn another way of working. How I hate it when that happens.

 

How much time did you spend setting everything up before starting to write or did you do bits of the novel while getting the outline together?

 

Phil

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Hi, Phil:

Thanks for reading my post. I don't know exactly how long, because I did it in stages. I started with the basic character/structure exercises in John Truby's Anatomy of Story, which I strongly recommend for its super-clear but flexible approach to story structure. From that, I had a basic idea of my characters and how they fit together as "faces" (approaches) to the basic question as well as a list of about twenty preliminary plot points that I imported into Storyist. I would guess that took me about one weekend. I spent another weekend running goal, motivation, and conflict charts (Debra Dixon, Goal, Motivation, and Conflict—another winner, but hard to find, since you have to order it directly from Gryphon Books for Writers) for my four main characters. I had a lot of that loaded into the notebook in Storyist before I began.

 

After that, it gets clearer. This week was my "stay-cation." I started on Saturday and worked in Storyist every day, turning the GMC charts into full character descriptions and the preliminary plot points into a fuller outline that I could check for coherence. I added a custom field called "Include" where I could list things I might otherwise forget when I began to write (how does B feel about his friend's death? what makes him suspect murder?). I ended up with section sheets and a setting sheet for the first chapter; I'll add the rest as I go along (or not, knowing me!). I could have done all that in 3-4 days if I hadn't spent a lot of time procrastinating—pinning to Pinterest, checking my Facebook updates, writing two blog posts, and the like. So maybe a couple of weeks, tops?

 

Still, it was worth it. I'm sure that as soon as I start typing I'll veer off course. I always do. But having a spine for my story is helpful. I also wanted to post something on the new social network for writers that I joined (more procrastination! ;) ), WANATribe, where people were already touting Scrivener. But I hate the animus that often seems to flow into Storyist vs. Scrivener discussions (as if you have to choose), so I decided to focus on my pantser to plotter development instead.

 

Some of you may want to check out WANA. At least so far, it's entirely focused on writing and publishing (including blogging). You sign up for the site, then join individual tribes that represent your interests. A nice counterpoint to the Storyist forums and much more targeted than Facebook. And free, of course.

Best,

M

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Thought some of you—especially those of you who know me as an unregenerate pantser who couldn't figure out why anyone needed plot points for my first two years as a beta tester ;)—might enjoy my recent blog post, "Pantser Learns to Plot, Courtesy of Storyist."

Okay, but "snowflakers"? Do I have to start calling myself a "snowflake"? In this heat?

:(

-T

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Maybe a snowflake would feel good in this heat. :D

 

But no, you have my permission not to call yourself any kind of flake, at any time. See how nice we Evil Alien Overladies can be when the spirit moves us? ;)

Happy Sunday,

M

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Maybe a snowflake would feel good in this heat. :D

But no, you have my permission not to call yourself any kind of flake, at any time. See how nice we Evil Alien Overladies can be when the spirit moves us? ;)

I'm still a little concerned over your conversion, Oh Not-Exactly-Evil Alien Overlady. But you say (in your blog) that it works for you and gives you confidence. Surely that's enough reason for me to try it. But what do you call someone who isn't exactly a Pantser? Someone who plots in shorts? A Shorty? Nope. Still not feeling it.

 

Happy Sunday,

M

And to you, NEEAO. (Hmm. I'm sensing a book title.)

-T

 

Edit: I'm wondering if plotting might best be done after the first pantsing draft. Thoughts?

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I'm still a little concerned over your conversion, Oh Not-Exactly-Evil Alien Overlady. But you say (in your blog) that it works for you and gives you confidence. Surely that's enough reason for me to try it. But what do you call someone who isn't exactly a Pantser? Someone who plots in shorts? A Shorty? Nope. Still not feeling it.

 

 

And to you, NEEAO. (Hmm. I'm sensing a book title.)

-T

 

Edit: I'm wondering if plotting might best be done after the first pantsing draft. Thoughts?

:D (on the title).

 

"Worked" is a relative term. I will have two books out by Labor Day. If the result of plotting is that I can produce another in less than three years (and I don't know yet if that is true), then this approach will have worked. If not, then it hasn't.

 

I still find that the best ideas come to me during the writing. It does help to have a basic story structure with which to start. But until I can be sure that structure will survive past chapter 5, I can't recommend this approach to any other pantser, whatever I said on my blog.

 

And to the extent that it does work, it works in the sense that by the time I reach the end of the first rough draft, I have a structure. I just need to tweak it in the revisions. That is the step I am avoiding, if I am.

 

In short, you are right to be suspicious. My post was sincere, but the results are not yet certain.

Best,

M

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I still find that the best ideas come to me during the writing. It does help to have a basic story structure with which to start.

Ah, there's the rub. I always start with a handful of main characters, a "big bad" to be overcome and a "structure" that is little more than a synopsis. I move my characters from here to there. I get them into trouble. I get them out of trouble. I make them talk to each other. But like you, my best ideas come to me during the writing. They're usually dialog ideas but sometimes they significantly alter a character, the "big bad" or the synopsis. In such cases I have to make the heartbreaking decision of discarding this "best idea" and save myself a rewrite, or create a better story. The former seems like laziness but the latter could put me on a never-ending journey. My pathetic attempts at plotting can't save me from this dilemma. (I once owned an '84 Chrysler Dilemma. ;) )

 

And to the extent that it does work, it works in the sense that by the time I reach the end of the first rough draft, I have a structure. I just need to tweak it in the revisions. That is the step I am avoiding, if I am.

Indeed. Inquiring minds want to know.

 

Still enjoying the good and bad of creative exploration.

-T

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Both Storyist and my blog have grown a lot since I started this topic, but since this week's post is also on writing, with a nod to Storyist 3, I decided it was time for an update, for those for whom part of the fun of writing is imagining who would play your characters on screen: http://blog.cplesley.com/2015/07/casting-call.html. :)

Best,

M

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