• Amy Oliveira

Writing Tips (The Plotting)

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

Hello everyone, are you still there? Are we still in lockdown? Yes, we are, at least here in Dublin. Which is fine, I’m running a little insane, but we’re safe and I’m grateful for that.

Let’s dive in?

Last week we talked about word count and why it is so important to the final product, but now I believe that you all decided on the best format for your story (short, novella or novel), so I’m guessing we can start from there!

If you’ve ever been in an online writing group you’ve answered the question; Plotter or Pantser?

To be honest, until last year I wasn’t even familiar with the term, I used script terminology, and while I hated a full plot synopsis, I love little tiny bite sized chapter by chapter ones.

If you don’t know the term, plotter is someone who plans their novel, while a pantser writes as they go!

I believe there’s a plotter in all of us, we all need a little bit of discipline to conquer the beast that is writing. In reality we can get anywhere in plenty of different ways, but a little planning can help to set the pace, reduce editing time and optimize the writing process.

God save the Outline.

Say it again! God save the Outline.

It is the easiest way to know what’s going on inside my brain and why I have to tell that story. Let’s sit down with a cup of tea and write down where the novel is going! What’s your bottom line? If you were meeting an old friend at the store and she was telling you a little tale, what’s the bottom line? Why is she telling you that? She must to have a reason to stop you in the middle of Tesco and starting on a full blown story about Rebecca down the road, am I right?

Write your outline like that friend. Like no one is interested and they are carrying a fairly wet load of frozen food, but you’ve got to stop them, because it’s a story we all need to hear.

“Have you heard about Ellis Montgomery?”

That’s the spirit. From there I give you the next option: You can outline just individual characters.

If the story is to bring a single shy woman into realising her full potential, you might not need to have a full blown outline since the plot happens internally and you might just need to track events that bring her into the nice end where she becomes 100% that bitch.

Another trick is to have written down your most expected scene. That happened to me before, when I imagined a particular scene that triggered me to write a whole novel. That was Ellis M, by the way. Without giving any spoilers, the first thing I imagined was the karaoke scene while listening Rockabye by Clean Bandit and I knew it was about a girl named Ellis Montgomery.

You can also make a simple easy map, go chapter by chapter just leaving key words to remind yourself of plot points that need to be hit.

And my last plotting trick goes to the people who don’t believe you can be objective with art. If you think plotting feels too mechanic, why don’t you track characters’ feelings? Emotional growth can be an amazing and delicate way to map a character on the page. If you’re more of an intuitive writer, I’m sure your readers will be the same. Maybe rigid plotting isn’t for you, but still you can have goals for your character and have a perfect arc that way.

Let me tell you something, make these tools work in your favour. No writing style is wrong!

Are you a happy plotter now?

Stay well, drink water and shop indie.

Amy x

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