Monday, November 3, 2014

How to Plot Your Novel with the "Road Map" technique

Okay! In honor of November being NaNoWriMo, with all those writers determinedly writing, I thought now might be a good idea to break down and put up those novel plotting posts I've been asked about. 
     (Also, a good idea to write them, first.)

  I'm thinking I'll call this series "How to Plot Your Novel ... or Plotting For Pansters".

Q: I know specific plot points my novel is wanting, but I'm unsure about how to figure out what goes between them. Any suggestions?

A: As a died in the wool panster, this is what I'd recommend! :-)

 Start writing madly with every plot point you have in mind. You can make a "road map" on a piece of paper, jotting down the main important destinations. Big City  - - - -  Visit Prison (to check up with incarcerated witness) - - - - Shabby Hotel - - - - etc.  Then, when you're writing along, and suddenly in the Shabby Hotel your MC yells, mid argument, "I told you we shouldn't have taken that stupid short cut! If you'd have listened to me, we would have been here hours ago, and that little girl never would have been shot in the bank robbery, 'cause we would have stopped it before it happened!!!"
Real, actual road map plot I've been writing from for a couple years now, off & on.

 Then make a note in your road map.

 In between Prison and Shabby Hotel jot down "Short cut - argue about". There you have another scene that you will need to write so readers will know why your MC is so mad about not being listened to.

 You can use symbols, or scribble pictures... whatever will spark your memory later on.

 This is the method I use, and it works really well for me. So long as I am faithfully following the story by putting down on paper the scenes I DO know, the others will generally follow... like clues on a mystery case. As the writer/detective you get a feel for where you need to go, (and take your readers along with you) next.

               Hope this helps!!!
                          Have a good NaNo!


Anonymous said...

Wonderful suggestion. Thanks!

E. Kaiser Writes said...

Thanks, Dawnita! I'll be demoing some more of the tricks I use to get off of "stuck" on into "rollin'!" as we go! :-)

Joel D Canfield said...

Hey, EK, have you seen my series on this?

You're spot on :)

E. Kaiser Writes said...

Hey, Joel!
No, I hadn't seen your post! (Haven't even taken time to check your site out yet! NaNo month! ;-) )
I'll have to go take a gander.

It really helps me visualize the plot as a 3D thing if I can get the squiggly lines down and let them wander all over the place, or paper, describing the feel.
Breaks the "it's a plot organizing technique!" freeze. ;-)

Thanks for stopping by!

Jennifer Jensen said...

Love this - it's sort of what I'm doing without realizing it. I have a half-dozen things I know are going to happen, some characters that have popped up in research that I really like, and I know how it ends. But while laying it all out is good, staring at it and trying to figure out how to fill in the holes isn't! So I just started typing and playing with what I have. I'm sure NaNo will jumpstart some extra, too!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great tips for pantsing with a map!

E. Kaiser Writes said...

Exactly, Jennifer! When we have a handful of great scenes but don't know how to get them down on paper to see what we're misisng yet!!!
This works great, to start "arranging" them around.
It also keeps me from forgetting a scene or two over the course of the writing process! I can look at the "mind map" and be reminded instantly!
Glad you liked them, Tyrean! Sometimes us pantsers only need a new angle to coalesce our dreams into the butterflies we can catch with nets! :-)