Monday, April 14, 2008

The Plot Thickens

Do you remember the saying truth is stranger than fiction?

I've had some things go on in my life lately. People who know me and know that I write say "Oh, you should put that in a book!" I say "They would never believe it!"

So it is true that truth is stranger than fiction. Which makes plotting an exciting time in a writer's life, doesn't it? (For those who truly plot, that is.)

I'm not a real big plotter. I know what the beginning is, I know what the end will be. The middle, well, I tend to leave that up to the characters. But as I grow as a writer, I'm making more progress (Yes, I do consider this progress) toward knowing what's going to happen in the middle of the book. I'm not totally there, Mindy don't panic, I'm still more on the panster side, but a part of me wants to know how my hero and heroine are going to get from miserable beginning to happy ending.

So, the question of the day is.......

Do you, as a writer want to know the "how" of your novel? Or do you as a writer just start and let the keyboard take you where you need to go. Or have you found yourself flipping back and forth.

And for those of you who aren't writers, do you read the end of the book first?


  1. Isn't reading the ending first against the law or something?? I thought bookstore sirens go off if you get caught.

    Oh? They don't? Well, I guess it's against Missy Law. I caught my hubby doing it one day and he got in biiiggg trouble. ;)

    I guess I plot enough to have somewhat of a framework--most of the main plot points. I've just found that it saves me revising time in the end. But I know very successful authors who just leap in and go. So you have to find what works for you.

    I suggest writers try different methods and see what you enjoy and what makes for the best story for you.


  2. Like you, Lindi, I usually have the beginning and the end, and often several scenes in between. I'm not a puzzler though. I suppose that even if I did plot the whole thing out, I would still be making changes along the way.

    As for the end of the book, I almost always skip and read the last two pages. Blame it on conflict. I need that assurance that they will indeed end up together:-)

  3. With my first ms I was a total pantser. This was probably helped by the fact that I had absolutely no clue what I was doing! All I knew was the beginning and how I knew I didn't want it to end. Everything else was a complete mystery!

    In I ended up writing the first ten chapters, then the last ten and then spent months over how to get my characters from where they were at the end of chapter ten to where they were at the beginning of chapter twenty!

    With my next one I have a far better idea of what will be in it but still no real plot structure. And when I hear people start talking about snowflake methods and excel spreadsheets and how they already have a detailed plot before they even start writing I almost break out into a cold sweat!

    For me some of my best scenes have been when I have started writing with a destination in mind and my characters have taken it somewhere completely different.

    For example in my first ms there is a scene where my heroine gets home from church one night. My plan was that she would have a friend knocking on her door with some big news. So I was just writing a few things to 'kill' some time before the friend showed up. The next thing I know she checks the answering machine, there's a message on there from a long lost flame, I have a completely new sub-plot and am looking at my screen going "Hold on! Where did you come from?!"

    For me that is one of the best parts of writing. When your characters get this life of their own and take you somewhere completely unexpected :)

  4. Missy,
    I bet your hubby was in trouble! How dare he read the end! I know he knows now that is a no-no.
    (Can I put that word no in here a few more times?)

    You do a really good job of plotting out the story. I wish I could, too.

  5. Mindy,
    Shame on you---even for the last two pages. But, we'll cut you some slack.
    PS--have you checked my blog? You won the book from Amy Wallace. I"m going to get it autographed for you then send it. Congrats!

  6. Kara,
    Now that sounds like how I write most of the time. I like how the scene changed on you and gave you a whole new subplot. That's awesome.
    And you mentioned the snowflake method. That's actually a really good way to get a synopsis written. As much as I don't like structure when it comes to writing, I was really blown away by the snowflake method---again very helpful for the synopsis.

  7. I won?! I was just thinking today that I needed to check and see who won. I'm so excited!

  8. Kara, I like that plot twist with the answering machine! Now I want to know if she gets with the old flame! :)

    I do some of the surprise stuff while I'm planning. And when I say planning, I mean something more like brainstorming scene ideas. I haven't tried a spreadsheet yet. I may do it next time, though, just to help keep up with where all the scenes are. This time, I just kept a list of scenes and page numbers as I wrote.


  9. I could be your all end chapter.........Ive got drama, life, living, losing....but then again if I were a writer, you wouldnt listen !!!!

  10. Cuz,

    I would listen. I promise.
    But remember truth is stranger than fiction. So.....

  11. Does she get back with the old flame? That's the question!

    Wish I could tell you but hey if I did that then you won't need to buy the book or go see the movie.

    Hey I figure if I'm going to dream I had might as well make it big :)