Saturday, February 09, 2008

Push Me - Pull You

Perhaps I've found a happy medium. Each time I start a new novel, I struggle with whether to plot like a dedicated SNOWFLAKER, or to fly free like the best seat-of-the-pants-er.

This week on The Edit Cafe, Becky Germany posted about the need to have a firm foundation to build your story on. HeartSong books from Barbour requires a chapter by chapter synopsis along with the proposal for a new book. I've tended to write this Chapter by Chapter after the novel is completed.

I've tried outlining, snowflaking, scene cards, you name it, knowing this will help me write quicker and tighter. But, if I get too detailed about where the story is going, I lose all enthusiasm to write it.

That was before I wrote a one-page synopsis for the Genesis contest. Then I wrote a Chapter by Chapter synopsis of that same story, fleshing out the one-page synopsis to three and a half pages. I even color coded it to show whose point of view the scene would be written in. And I'm still excited to write the story! I went so far as to write at home on a Saturday, something I don't normally do.

I think I've found the right Push Me - Pull You for this book at least. Maybe it will be my Modus Operandi from here on out. Who knows?


  1. Always a great feeling to find a method that works for you. Congrats!

  2. Could you detail that some more? Like what did the Chapter by Chapter thing SAY? POV, SETTING, DIALOGUE. I'm intrigued.

    Also, does it work like an outline?

    I'm glad it works for you anyway! How come you changed the book's title?+

  3. To answer Donna's questions:

    The Chapter by Chapter is just one or two sentences summarizing what I want to happen in that chapter. If it is in the heroine's POV, I highlighted it in pink, and the hero's POV is in blue. I didn't include any setting or dialogue snippets, though you certainly could.

    It is a rough outline, no points or subpoints, but a sort of stream of consciousness story flow, hitting the high points and getting them in a reasonable order.

    As to the title of the book, I'm working on the sequel to Bartered Bride at the moment. Horse of a Different Color is waiting until after the Genesis to get back to. Not my preferred method of working, but necessary at this time.

  4. Whatever works--that's what I always hear. I'm pulling for you on this!
    I've not discovered what works best for me . . . yet. I've done the snowflake, the index cards, and having the characters write in their journals. I think a combination of all these are making me a better writer with more believable characters and story. At least that's what I pray :-)

  5. Aside from the creepy picture, even though I adore llamas, I'm glad you've found a system=P Lately, I'm starting to think that my system is going to vary from book to book, which is quite stressful for a Type A. Do you wonder if it ever gets any easier? I haven't found that to be the case yet.

  6. I'm more of a plotter than a sotper, but there's a point I reach where I just need to write what I know because I learn so much more about the characters by what they say and do as I'm writing.

    I love it when I'm working on that first draft, and a character says something, and I pause in my typing and think, "I didn't know that about them!"

    And the plot deepens from there. Yes, it does mean I do quite a number of revisions, but I think it's the way that works the best for me. Know 75% ahead of the time; figure out the other 25% as we go along.

  7. I'm trying to find the same balance right now too. The problem for me is that this particular story is very character driven. I'm having trouble putting the main character's goal into concrete terms. It's kind of spiritual/emotional. It's driving me crazy, but that's the story she has to tell. Does every character have to be about to lose her job, her house or her family? What if he/she just wants to escape the debilitating grip of fear? Is that enough of a goal? Even if it's an unconscious one? Granted there are other goals and conflicts that arise as the story progresses, but I'm just wondering about that BIG ONE every story's supposed to have. Is it okay that she doesn't really know what she wants and the only real danger she's in is spiritual and emotional?? Aargghh! I think I need to stop reading craft books for a little while. I'm turning into an over-analytic freak! :P

  8. Can I answer Lori's question here? I think that overcoming FEAR is a real biggie of a thing to have for your plot. Sometimes spiritual or inside struggles can be worse than having a concrete thing to work out--like how to keep your job or your house. To me, it's harder to show the inner struggles in a book but more worthwhile.

    And maybe you can even turn your plot around by having your MC think--Gee, if I was losing my house or my job, I could figure out how to earn the money or do something! What do you do when it's fear that's holding you back?
    Instead of trying to overcome the hardship of interior struggles, milk them and use that to make a great book.

    And Erica, I LOVED the pink and blue highlighter thing for characters. I may try the one or two sentence thingie--thanks.