Daily Joe, October 8
Updated: Oct 11
Hey all! It's Friday on Brynn's Daily Joe! Yay!!!
Today, I'll be talking about my writing process, part deux. Or part 2 if you please. But first, I feel as if I owe you a Joe... Hey here you go:
So, today, I'm picking up where I left off yesterday. To recap, on Thursday, I covered the foundational things I do for concept and characters before I move onto plotting. (If you missed it, you can find it HERE)
Which brings us to today. PLOTTING.
Some of you just ran in fear, didn't you? I knew it.
So...I've always been a bit of a plotser (that a combo of someone who plots and someone who writes by the seat of their pants). That has definitely changed to leaning toward less pantsing and more planning nowadays.
Yes. I have spreadsheets. I have one for short books and another one for long books. One I call my 7-point plot (which is a lie. There are more than 7 points) and the other I call my 16-point plot.
But before we get to those, I need to do a couple other tasks. First is my overview for the book. Based on what I know about the characters and my concept, I think about how the book starts then how it ends. To be clear, I don't mean them declaring their love and heading into their happily ever after. That's a given with my books. When I say "the ending", I mean, what is the event that rips them apart and/or threatens their forever and makes my readers gasp and/or worry about the hero and heroine's future. The reason I call this the ending is because once the hero and heroine traverse through this part, they're pretty much home free.
To finish out this step I sketch out what I think happens in the middle. It can be a little squishy. I don't need to have things nailed down yet.
I'll stop right here and tell you for free, this might and often changes while I go through plotting then writing. Not a single one of my books ends up exactly as I plot them.
For Knight Time Kiss, I stopped midway through the book and replotted the whole dang thing. To be fair, I didn't use the more solid process I use now when I originally plotted it. THEN when I neared the end, I decided I needed two more chapters to fully flesh it out.
For In Plain Sight, the book before that, I needed to add two chapters too. I figured that out between deciding my plot points and writing, so it wasn't a big deal.
For Step Challenge, I DELETED five planned chapters. (okay, deleted is harsh. I combined those chapters with others because they didn't need to stand alone and have me try to fill enough space with blah blah blah in order for each one to be chapter length. I am anti-blah blah blah...)
So what I'm saying here is that while you're getting things nailed down, you still have a lot of leeway here. (Okay pansters, I hear you. OMG I couldn't do that. Come on. There is a big difference between a twenty word plot point and a 2500 word chapter. I had to come to terms with this too.)
So...back on track. We've finished the overview which might be three paragraphs long (beginning, middle, end) That's when we go to the hard part.
This next task usually takes me a few days. Not because it's long or complicated. It generally just takes me that amount of time to get my thoughts tamed enough to wrangle together my plot. (Or I'm procrastinating because it's difficult. Six of one, half dozen of the other)
Arguably, this is the most difficult part about my entire process. Some people might think it's easy to come up with the 7 to 16 plot points, but for me, it's harder than actually writing the book.
For my plot points, I use a combination of some Hero's Journey, some Save the Cat and some of the various elements picked up from the writing books I've read the past twenty years.
Essentially, the 7 and 16 point plots are the same. The 7-point just has less events in the middle of it.
Some plotting teachers will tell you that action should look like this in a book:
The action in my books, looks like this:
See how bumpy it is. Essentially, these are the same thing, although I would give it a little milder curve. I think that the steep curve is misleading and daunting to many newer and even not so new writers. But the way they're the same is that they're both rising action. You just can't see the bumps on the first chart...and it's the bumps that are essential.
As a reader, it's the bumps that keep us reading then give us a little space to breathe. As a writer, it's how we keep things interesting.
So...for every book, I fill out my Excel plot sheet. Assisting with that are my plot cards. They're the same thing, but it's useful to take them and a notebook and walk away from the computer. Once I have my points written down, I can go back to the spreadsheet and type in the plot (adding, smoothing and deleting as necessary).
To be clear: 16 plot points does not equal 16 chapters. Some of these things take place over the course of several chapters. Some of these things are a single moment in a chapter. This is why I have two plot structures (16 and 7). It's impossible to do the larger structure with a short book and there's too much room for boredom and a marshmallowy squishy middle if you try to use the shorter one to plot a long book.
And look, I think squishy middles are just fine as a body type, but I have to draw the line at book structures. I want to see those rippling abs! (i.e. rising and falling action)
For example, Knight Time Kiss was 25 chapters when you include the epilogue. Step Challenge was 23 chapters, including the epilogue and started out as 28 (but I combined chapters while writing).
Okay Brynn...get to it already. What is it???
This is a copy direct from my spreadsheet, in the order that I figure out each element. When determining your plot points, you don't want to go linear. Knowing your turning point, beginning and end will assist you greatly while laying things out. So here it is (it's a screen grab because frankly I didn't feel like typing it all out and I think seeing it like this is more helpful anyway):
*** excuse the typos/misspellings in the description.
Plot Point is the order in the book.
Plot Order is the order you do your plot, i.e. Midpoint is the 1st thing you figure out, followed by the Climax of Act 3.
The other 2 items are just the name and description of each point. These are just notes to myself to remind me what I'm doing for each item. A lot of it comes by rote over time, but sometimes the brain just says: werdzzz? wut r werdzzz?
Okay, that is A LOT for today. Come back on Monday when I round this out. Believe it or not, I have THREE more things I do before I write a single thing in my manuscript.
Today, October 8, 2021
I am wrecked from yesterday. I wrote 9488 words and that's a lot for one day. Spoiler alert: I could do that because I knew exactly what I was writing for each chapter.
So today, I'm regroup and working on my plotting for upcoming books. I also need to write about 2K werdzzz (each) on Wife Bait and After Z.
Just a reminder, Enforcer comes out on MONDAY! You know you want it. CLICK HERE!
Love you all! Happy plotting, writing and reading!