Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Humor and Roadmaps

This cartoon has nothing to do with this post, but hey, it's funny. My local newspaper started featuring the comic, Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis a few months ago. Hubby loves them and I've got to admit, the offbeat sense of humor is pretty darn addictive.

The Plotting Roadmap

Before I drifted off to sleep last night, I was writing in my journal about my plotting process. I thought that perhaps with this first novel of my Italian Duet, I should plot out as much as I could. But then I thought, no way can I plot out every scene. I know some authors do this, but if I did it, I would, well, be bored when I started writing because I would already know everything I was going to write.

But, I realized that I still need a roadmap. So this is my probably overused analogy, but I like it all the same.

When you plan a long trip, you usually have some major stopping points along the way - gas, food, and maybe a hotel or two. You don't necessarily plan every single stop you're going to take. What if you suddenly blow out a tire? Or drank too much Diet Pepsi and need a rest stop ASAP? Then there's construction. Hunger pains. Whiny kids begging to get out and stretch their legs.

That's how I plot. I know my destination and how to get there, but there may be a few detours along the way in between those main stopping points. Those stopping points include the beginning, middle, and end, of course, but also some other key "rest areas." The inciting incident, the black moment, and the climax are just a few.

Let's talk about plot. When you start to plot a story, do you plot all those areas in between your major "rest areas", or do you know your starting and ending points and make up everything in between when you're writing?


  1. I typically know the beginning, ending, and a few fun scenes in between. I use those as motivation when I hit a lull. Then I just take off. Half the time I end up surprising myself. And sometimes, when reading through a completed first draft, I find myself thinking, "Did I write that?" Fun stuff!

    Great topic. :)

  2. Michelle3:41 PM

    I like the bus rejection. :)

    I tend to plot my turning points and figure out the rest as I go along. Not saying that this actually is an EFFICIENT way to work, but unfortunately it's how my brain works. :)

  3. I can get underway just knowing the general set-up and the likely ending. The joy of writing, for me, is the process of continually discovering the story as I go.

    Glad you're feeling better, by the way!

  4. Well, are we talking about what I've actually done, or what I think I should do? ;)

    With the WIP I'm editing now, I knew the hook, the beginning, and a few fun scenes. That's not ideal when plotting a mystery! So with my next book I'm determined to know much more going into it.

    Still, I have a journal full of scenes and starts for books where the characters just came to me and I at least had to get that much down.

  5. Hi Melissa

    Great post! I, too, prefer to create a roadmap for my story, without plotting out every scene. I like to keep it open for the characters to take me in better directions than what I had initially planned. Also loved the comic. Thanks!

  6. My son loves "Pearls before Swine." He has an offbeat sense of humor.

    I know the beginning and the end and that's it. I let the rest come as a surprise.


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