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Monday, September 5, 2011

Outlines and Plotters and Arcs, Oh My

Looking for Fight Scenes this week. Email scenes of 250 – 300 word count from your MS (with a lead-in) to beccoff(at)nwmo(dot)net. Readers want authenticity and realism without minutiae bogging the story down.

How do you visualize your storyline? Or to put it succinctly, how do you write and plot to the whizz-bang ending?

Plotters and Pantsers or the Organized vs the Muse Method

Plotters are organized. They know where their characters are headed and how to get there. Maybe they don’t have every detail reasoned out but they have a grand plan with outlines and post-its.

Muse takes the wheel for Pantsers. They sit down not knowing where the gods of creativity will lead them. All they need is quiet time, a keyboard, and maybe a little music to coast along. Mood plays a large part in their storyline.

Arcs are a combination of both, plotting and muse. To do arcs, write the MC’s name on left side of the page. Draw an arc across the paper to the other side. The ending point at the right is the conclusion of your MS. In the middle of this arc, place an X to signify the Inciting Incident, or the point where an event changes the character’s life forever. At this spot, there is no turning back for him/her.

In between, make smaller Xs to signify how the MC came to this point of no return. At each juncture, make smaller arcs to connect these storylines into a cohesive whole.

As the arc grows, add secondary characters with their own arcs. Look at them as growth patterns, how they change over the course of the book.

Sometimes the patterns change and go a different direction like a homemade crystal made of sugar or salt.

My personal method is somewhat convoluted. I draw, use arrows and circles. Warning! This is a Gladiator spoiler:

Note that I circled the character’s names with the MC in the middle. Underneath each name are their personality traits and/or goals. Arrows lead to interaction with other names and relate how they interact.  In the lower right hand corner is the ending, how it all comes together.

Whether you hold the reins tight or drive by the seat of your pants, the story will evolve. The means is up to you.

Once again, I am looking for Fight Scenes this week, send 250-200 word excerpt with a lead-in to beccoff(at)nwmo(dot)net.

Tomorrow I will post one of my own for review.


mshatch said...

this was interesting! Thanks, and I'll see if I can find a fight scene worth of critting...

Tara Tyler said...

my fight scenes could use some work. curious to see what comes up!