How Plotting Helped Me

Saturday, January 21, 2017
I just had my three year writing anniversary! (jan. 18th) *major squeal* In those three years, I've always been a hardcore pantser. Outlines have forever been thrown out of the window, replaced by glorious freedom and flexibility. 

But with every novel I've written... I went into it without a plot, and came out with a hashed together mess of words, that I ended up having to outline and rewrite anyways.

So last October, I decided that I would try this foreign concept calling plotting. I wrote a whole post about how I plotted a novel, but today I'm talking about how plotting helped me.

plotting helped me...
I started plotting at the beginning of October, and didn't actually get to start writing my novel until November 1st. THAT'S A LONG TIME. But before I even started my novel I fell in love with my characters. I thought about the epic scenes, and the plots twists, and all the words I couldn't wait to craft

Plotting created an excitement for the potential in my story.
I was able to see it laid out from chapter to chapter, which made me think, "hey! maybe this is possible for me to write and conquer..."

plotting helped me...
(quick lil' reminder that this is how plotting impacted me. every writer is different and everything works differently for each writer. I do encourage you to give other writing methods a try, though.)

I think everyone can agree that first drafts are messy. They're filled with all sorts of nonsense and babbles and typos. Though my NaNo draft still has plenty of that, plotting helped me write a considerably cleaner draft.

Instead of worrying about how I was going to end my novel, or what should happen next, or if my character was reacting appropriately, or if I should include zombie pigs... I was able to use that extra space in my mind to focus on what I was writing. 

I took my time (as much time as you can take with NaNo), crafting my words carefully, trying to make sure that they flowed and sounded pretty. (I mean... there were still plenty of word vomit sections, but less than usual. xD)

plotting has helped me...

The title of this point is a joke. There's no such thing as no-stress nanowrimo.

But... plotting did help take away some of the stress. In the middle of NaNo, there's not exactly time to replot a novel, or decide that actually I should add in zombie pigs. Plotting helped me avoid all those NaNo disasters. I wasted less time staring off into space wondering about my plot, and used more time writing my novel. (which is always great, since time is limited.)

plotting has helped me...

Having the outline and the structure of the story helped me estimate. Now... I'm a naturally horrible estimator, so though it didn't help that much, it still came in handy. I was able to judge how many words I had left in the story, and then count the number of words per day to finish the novel during NaNo.

I'm kind of excited about editing this novel (excited and editing in the same sentence? whaaat?! ;), because I think the structure is what's really going to come in handy. My writing may be semi-messy, but the structure and backbone of the story is already in place. Instead of having to rewrite the story to rework the entire plot, I'll only have to focus on little scene and plot problems. 

And if there's a way to make editing easier, I'm an extremely happy writer. xD
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// katie grace

how has plotting or pantsing helped you?

55 comments :

  1. My outlines are probably really vague... really... I think I need to come up with a better way of plotting more stuff out. Are there any books that really helped you with learning to plot properly? If I ever do my story nearly always goes a completely different direction, and I have to re plot so much or just forget about potting it out altogether.

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    1. Yes! I plotted using the Snowflake Method, and that was the BEST. THING. EVER. I would totally recommend buying the kindle book. It's 100% worth it. (that's how nadine brandes plot -- she gave me the book and it's so amazing)

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  2. Yes yes! I like outlining because it makes the writing write so much easier. And I like knowing where I'm ending the story. Once or twice I've actually written the ending chapter before half the beginning of the book was done, and it really helped heaps to know where I was aiming.

    And having excited and editing in the same sentence is so YES. GO YOU. It'll be great, I'm sure. :D

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    1. Ooooh, really? o.O I've heard of writers doing that once in awhile. I just... that's a really interesting concept but I feel like I'd fail at it. But maybe I'll have to try it sometime. *nodnod*

      MWAHAHA. We'll see if my excitement stays after I start editing the novel... :P

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  3. Good advice, Katie!! Plotting seems like a really great choice. You have thoroughly convinced me! :)

    sophie xx
    lavender and blue
    the inkpot girl

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    1. Eeep! You'll have to let me know how plotting goes once you try it. <3

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  4. I am definitely not a hardcore pantser, learned that during NaNo last year. :P But I've never sat down and written out a complete outline either. I've been wanting to try. Usually, I just write down key events that I know are going to happen for sure. And, I HAVE to make sure that I know my characters well enough to even start, because if I don't, it doesn't end well. I'm so glad that you've found that plotting helps you. :) That's wonderful! :D

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    1. It sounds like you're a "plantser," then -- a mix in between the two. That's the best of both worlds, since you understand every other writing types.

      Ooh, that's interesting. I know my story pretty well going into the book, but I don't know my characters at all. Usually I start to know them AFTER I write the story. :D

      Thanks for reading! <3

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  5. This is an awesome post! I loved each point you made. (You're posts are always so coherent and well-written, yet they're funny and humorous to read.)

    Now you've inspired me... because I did outline my entire novel. I've been struggling to find the words to write it and the inspiration that helps me look beyond "this is trash." But since I outlined it all, I'm going to push through... even if it takes a long time. :P

    (also, I can't wait to read Where Shadows Lie. O.O)

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    1. (awwwh, thank you! I felt like this one was kind of thrown together, so your words mean a lot. :P)

      YAY. That makes me so happy. :D YOU CAN DO THIS. how much more do you think you have left?

      (adsjfkl;, I hope it's everything you hope to be. I'm really excited about the story. <3)

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    2. I think I have about 2/3 left? I don't know, I just have a lot to go yet. :P

      (so am I! <3)

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  6. "No stress Nano," << That caught me off guard for a second and made me laugh. I don't think there's anything that could truly subside the stress of writing 50k+ in thirty days. Unless, of course, you started packaging chocolate in little "No Stress NaNo!" wrappers. ;)

    Plotting has helped me, well, plot. Any know where I'm going. And often, if I'm plotting and writing down what's going to happen... I get more ideas of what will happen. THEN PLOT TWISTS. Mwhahaha...
    jeniquablog.wordpress.com

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    1. AWHH. That would be the cutest thing ever. Now I want to make a prototype for NaNo chocolates. So cute. xD

      "Plotting has helped me, well, plot." I don't know why, but that made me giggle. So eloquent. xD AW YIS PLOT TWISTS.

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  7. Plotting did help me once when my 6th class (6th grade) but I still haven't finished it... yeah... but maybe I'll plot in the future.

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    1. It's a good thing to try! But some people are naturally pantsers, and that's great, too. :D

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  8. Okay, you saw my plot for my NaNo novel. You know how much I need a plot. I legit panic when I try to start a chapter without knowing what's going to happen. I'm really glad that plotting has helped you too!

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    1. dude you are a hardcore plotter and I'm so impressed. SO MANY DETAILS. xD

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  9. I do super detailed outlines, and, you are so right - it does make me excited about the story! Doing some of the work in the outlining process is really helpful for me, too, because there's plenty of other work left in the actual writing process. Splitting the effort up is a good thing.

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    1. Definitely! I totally agree. I didn't know you were a plotter... Interesting. xD

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  10. As a hardcore panster, I've objected to plotting over the years, but I find that it's crept into my writing process more and more. It's really nice to have a little bit of security in where the novel is going, instead of going with the flow and crossing your fingers. XD

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    1. SAME. I started off a huge pantser, but little by little I keep adding in more plotting to my writing style. Soon I'll be a hardcore plotter. xD

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  11. I've always been more of a plotter, not an extreme plotter but I like to at least have a basic outline and an idea of where I'm going with my story, I'm glad you decided to give plotting a try! It totally does make things a lot easier sometimes.

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    1. Yes, it's super nice. I don't think I'll ever be a HARDCORE plotting... but I guess we'll see. xD

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  12. Ohhhh I love plotting so so much. I'm ridiculously addicted to it. Except my plotting has gone from like a page outline to 10K - 20K outlines now.šŸ˜‚ Except no regrets because the biggest reason it helps me is that I never get stuck in a draft!! IT'S SO INCREDIBLY HELPFUL. I haven't had writers block in years since I started plotting. (I get like plotter's block haha but that's waaaay less stressful than writers block I think. :') I'm so glad you've discovered a method that works really well for you!!

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    1. I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW THAT IS. Like... 20k...??? that's almost half a novel. You're crazy. xD

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  13. Hahaha, me, plotting? I wish, I really do, but even when I write down upcoming scenes or some sort of plot, it's always messy and generally tends to change the minute I start typing the story down. I would more say that I "pants" chunks of my stories down rather than a plotter or even a planster (how do you even spell that word!!?!XD) But I'm trying to plan ahead and not procrastinate in general, so that will eventually include my writings :D

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    1. Hey, and that's okay! Plotting isn't for everyone. And who knows -- you might be like me, where you suddenly turn to a plotter one day with no specific reason. xD

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  14. Whoa...a no-stress Nano? I may have only done one so far, but is there such a thing? XD

    I learned how to seriously plot about six months ago, and now I love it! It's definitely helped me organize my thoughts beyond a scribbled keyword on scrap paper that might as well be in another language the next time I read it ;-)

    Great post! :D

    audrey caylin

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    1. Eeep, yes! How do you go about plotting? Do you use a specific method?

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    2. Basically, I just do all the main points of the novel: inciating event, key event, 1st plot point, etc, all through the novel. Then I get a piece of paper and write out what I want to happen between those points, vaguely though. I know I'm going to end up scraping and rewriting those scenes when I go edit, but I like to have a semi-good idea of where I'm going when I write the first draft XD

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  15. Amen to all of these! You know, I now kind of want to try writing a novel I haven't plotted out. I think it would be very interesting XP But of course ... editing. *sigh* I always have to do a little bit of plotting. I've never attempted a chapter by chapter outline like you though! That's awesome. *high fives*

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    1. Oooh, that would be interesting. And probably terrifying if you're used to plotting. :P

      *growls at editing*

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  16. If a no-stress NaNo is impossible, maybe we can call it a 'low-stress' NaNo. ;)

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    1. OOH, now that's an idea... I like that. ;)

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  17. totally agreed! with Oblivion I got like 10 pgs of ideas out and then went thru and put it in "order" of sorts. Halfway thru I realized how much it had changed and how i needed more plot so I brainstormed more and whala - more plot and ideas. plotting always works as long as you leave room for changes and ideas and are willing to change those things XD

    but yes - speaking of plotting I should be brainstorming my new novel rn XD

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    1. YES GO BRAINSTORM YOUR NEW NOVEL AND THEN TELL ME ALL THE THINGS ABOUT IT BECAUSE I CAN'T WAIT TO KNOW MORE. o.o

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  18. Awesome points!! I probably should plot more x)

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    1. It's a good idea to give plotting a try, but it may not work as magically for you as it did for me. And that's okay. :)

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  19. I've always been a pantser, but have yet to finish an actual novel. So this month I've been working hard at plotting and planning. I've loved doing it and can't wait to write it. I'm thinking this could be in preparation for Camp nano... if I can wait that long. Excellent points.

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    1. Yay! I know... Camp NaNo seems so far away. I can't wait for it to come. :D

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  20. I have tried pansting and planning, but panting is I think the thing that suits me best. I can't ever stick to a detailed plot line. The skeleton is all I need - the rest'll come during writing. ;)

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    1. Pantsing is super fun for some reason. There's a certain amount of freedom with not having an outline, and I love it. (though it can also become stressful, but... eh. Details. :P)

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  21. Pantsing works for me because I'm stressed out by my plotlines....Xd Can't explain it....
    I'm world-building right now and it is hard.
    So hard.

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    1. Ooh, world-building is one of my problems, too. I don't understand how some authors can do it so brilliantly. :P

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  22. Gah novels, Katie. why do I write them?

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    1. Because you can't NOT write them. xD (at least... that's how it is for me. :P)

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  23. Thanks so much for this post, I can relate to this so much! I didn't plot any of my first novel, and while it was fun for a while, I got stuck real easily, and it turned out all over the place. I now am a planster (is that the correct term?), and the process is a little different every time!

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    1. I agree. Pantsing is fun, but can sometimes be dangerous and make editing extremely difficult.

      Yup, plantser is the right term! Pantser + plotter. :)

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  24. THIS POST MAKES MY SOUL HAPPY. :') I'm a hardcore plotter and I don't know how I would write a story without plotting tbh. But pantsers amaze me! And I think every writer should give both options a try (even though the books I wrote as a pantser are awful lololol) ALSO YES I totally agree about getting to know your story/characters before you even start writing the book. *nods in violent agreement* I've been plotting a sci-fi series for over a year now and I'M SO IN LOVE WITH THE STORY AND THE CHARACTERS ALREADY. :'''')

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    1. YOU MAKE MY SOUL HAPPY. :')

      dude. a... year?! HOW CAN YOU REFRAIN FROM NOT WRITING THAT BOOK FOR SO LONG? That's insane, man. And now I'm super curious and want to know about this project. *cough* *hint* *tell meee* :P

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  25. I'm a plotter/panster, but honestly, PLOTTING IS AWESOME AND IT HAS SERIOUSLY HELPED ME. It helps me keep track of everything, get to know my characters better, have not so ugly first drafts. =)

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    1. Oh, and I put your blog button on my blog. =)

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    2. exactly! and if you can have less ugly first drafts... that's always a win. :P

      awww, thank you so much! <3 <3

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