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Monday, June 24, 2013

Plotting or no Plotting?

That’s the huge question, right? 
Let’s say we have an amazing idea and we want to make it a novel. We are happy, exciting and we want to know every little detail before we sit down and write it. We want to make it great. 
We think, we plan, we take notes, we do research and we spend countless hours just thinking about it. We are plotting.

Then it’s time to write, but as the story moves on we see that there are more to think about. With every scene we complete, a new question appears  and despair fills our heart. 

Does this sounds familiar? I’m sure in one way or another we all have been caught in the same trap. The trap of plotting. It’s like a mind game, like a huge maze. We know the start, possibly the end, but we have no idea how to get there, how to find the way out of this huge maze. Every time we take a turn a new wall materializes before us and we are back in the beginning. 

If we keep doing this, we won’t be able to make our idea a novel. We’ll get tired, we’ll lose our happiness and our dream will shatter in a million pieces. So we'll say: "one day, I'd like to write a novel."

I’m asking you now … why do we keep doing this to ourselves? Why do we build obstacles in our way? I say we don’t. I say to enjoy it.

I say no plotting.

This is my way at least. In Dazed I plotted and search way more than I did in Divided. And I was tired. I wanted to finish my story, but I was in that maze, running around crazily, fighting my own demons. But I changed that.

The idea for Divided came when I was finishing Dazed. It was like a sparkle in my mind and I didn’t pay attention to it, since I was preoccupied with Dazed. Slowly, more thoughts gathered in my mind and transformed into ideas, and then it was like a huge wildfire. Unrestrained and  dangerous.

I wrote in everyday basis and the ideas kept coming and one day, without even realizing it … I had finished it. But this wasn’t the end. Ideas kept coming and so now I’m writing its sequel.

Now I don’t write every day, even if I try to steal some writing hours, but I do it the same way. I don’t plot. I leave my mind free to create. I just have a small idea, a hint where I want the story to go, and I just follow my instincts. It’s like what I’ve said before. Don’t be afraid to put your character in a very difficult situation, he will find a way to survive it.

Just sit down and write. Let your mind go wild and don’t start thinking. Don’t create a maze. I stop writing every time I feel I push myself. I know that I need some rest and then I will be able to finish that chapter, or that scene. It will come to you.

So, tell me. Do you plot? What is your way? :) 


  1. Glad to hear not plotting works for you! It sounds like a very freeing process. I'm both a plotter and a non-plotter, I think. With novels, the stories always seem to come out the easiest when I stop plotting and just let the characters do what they want. With comics, though, the opposite is true. Like, with my current webcomic, I plotted everything, and I mean everything, before I ever began drawing the first strip. (And there's gonna be years' worth of them!) I've already drawn over 90 strips, and so far my plotting has stayed in tact. I'm glad, since--unlike novels--I don't have the option to go back and change a plot point later if the characters suddenly decide to go in a new direction!

    1. Yes, with the webcomic I think it's different. Maybe it's the total plotting art.:) It's quite different when we see an image and when we try to describe one.
      Wow 90 strips! That's amazing. I wish you the best.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Great post, Athina. I'm a pantster too. I know just the beginning and the end; I think the characters would fill the middle for me. But for my next WIP, I've been doing some plotting. I hope it turns out well. But if I'm caught in that trap, then I would do away with the plotting and let the characters lead me.

    How's the sequel to Divided going?

    Have a great day!:)

    1. Plotting is a trap. I do believe that. I think the key is to keep the balance between plotting and no plotting.

      The sequel is moving slowly due to some University duties. But after Friday I will be free and I hope I'll be able to write. :)

      What are your plans on The Road Taken? Is editing going well?

    2. "Plotting is a trap. I do believe that. I think the key is to keep the balance between plotting and no plotting."

      Those are nice words, and I'll remember it.

      The Road Taken is going well. I'm currently revising the manuscript again. I'm cutting away the unnecessary stuffs and paying more attention to structure. Some of the opening chapters are ready, though.

      By next week, I hope to join CC fully.

  3. The main character has to be clear in my mind. Usually that takes a few starts and stops as I mold her (him). And I'm not sure of the end until I envision the next in the series. My only rule about plotting vs. no plotting is never work through dialogue in my head. I live to laugh, so my books have to crack me up. If I work out the lines ahead of time it feels deflated by the time I hit the computer.

    The Dread Yard, the juvenile fantasy book I'm working on with the boys will be written completely different than my previous books. I'll have their input to incorporate. So we'll see how that works out. Great post!

    p.s. what is CC?

    1. It must be amazing writing with your boys. :)
      Critique Circle it's an online writing workshop.
      I submit Dazed there and people do critiques to help me edit it.

    2. Hi, Athina. I just started on CC yesterday. I wrote a critique (newbie critique) for someone, and I submitted my first chapter. I hope to get the hang of everything soon and write better critiques.

      Happy Friday! :)

    3. Welcome to CC then.:)
      I have a new chapter for review on CC. It's Dazed chapter 18 on Mystery Queue. If you want to can take a look. It's one of my favorite chapters.
      My name there is Dathi. You can see my page.

      I'll check and critique your story when it's up.

      Good luck. :)