Ever Written A Plot Plan?


My ears are full of the voices of plotters saying "Of course I have a plot plan. Can't write without one!"

Pantsers, this post is for you.

What's a plot plan? A summary of what happens in each chapter. I never do this before I write because 1) I never know what'll happen, 2) I don't separate my first drafts into chapters and 3) PLOTTING IN ADVANCE BORES ME TO TEARS. It's a concept that does not compute to me.

However! We pantsers can make very good use of plot plans when we're editing. Having a chapter by chapter summary is a great way to see what's working, what needs tweaking, and what needs deleting. I have a habit of dumping every possible idea into a first draft, including threads I don't wind up developing. A plot plan can help me weed this rubbish out.

It's also a handy way to remind yourself of the plot. Yeah, sometimes I pants a book so hard I don't really remember what I've written until I re-read it. It's kind of like an out of body experience. "I wrote that? Wow! I'm not so bad at this!"

So, how do I, Pantser Extraordinaire, create my plot plan?

  1. Read the first draft and divide into chapters
  2. During the second read-through, write down what each paragraph does to move the story on. If it doesn't, it gets deleted. 
  3. Go back to earlier chapter outlines when something crops up in a later chapter that requires grounding sooner rather than later.
  4. Same if later chapters reveal plot points never came to anything and need removing from earlier chapters.
As you might expect, my plot plan can change between drafts. Still, it comes in handy as an editing tool. With all things, this is my method. Plotters, by all means feel free to do this before you start drafting ;) As for my fellow pantsers, this is a fantastic editing tool. Helpful when you reach the synopsis writing phase, too.

Comments

  1. That out of body "I wrote this?" experience sounds like SO MUCH FUN. This plotter is envious. ;)

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    Replies
    1. It is extremely surreal. I read over it and wonder when I wrote it and how :P

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