Thursday, March 12, 2009

Confessions of a Reformed Writer...continued

Once I finish with the visual aide of the Plot Board, I transpose all my notes into a document. The format goes something like this:

  • Heroine's one paragraph description, hair, eyes, micro-backstory of who she is.
  • Heroine's GMC for External, Internal, and Spiritual goals.
  • Hero's one paragraph description, hair, eyes, etc.
  • Hero's GMC for external, internal, and spiritual goals.
  • Chapters divided into scenes. Paragraph summaries of each scene with a highlighted line in blue or pink to show whose POV the scene is in. And at the end of the summary paragraph I've listed the scene goals. Scene goals is a new aspect I'm trying. I want to make sure each scene accomplishes what I want and by analyzing it beforehand, I can better evaluate my success.

Here's an example of the GMC section for my heroine:

Lily Whitman:

Vitals: Age 20, blond hair, sea-green eyes, chatters a lot. One sister, Violet, (22) who is an unwed mother, one niece, Rose (6 mo.). Middle-class upbringing, basic schooling, wants to open a bakery with her sister. She’s younger than Violet, but she’s always taken the lead. She will provide for Violet and Rose, no men necessary.

Goals: External

1. Get baby Rose back from kidnappers.

2. Because she promised her sister Violet that she would care for the baby.

3. But she can’t get Rose back by herself. She must rely on Trace McConnell.

Goals: Internal

1. Steer clear of men and prove she can do things on her own.

2. Because the men in her life (Violet’s rat of a boyfriend and Lily’s father) have let them down again and again.

3. But she must rely on a man to help her get the baby back, finding it comforting and disturbing when Trace does and does not fit her stereotypes.

Goal: Spiritual – She needs to humble herself to ask for help when she needs it, both from God and from those He brings into her path.

As you can see I've used the Goal, Because, But format from Debra Dixon's GMC book which I HIGHLY recommend for every fiction writer.

I've given the character a Goal, then a reason why she wants it, and what stands in the way of her getting it. The essence of GMC.

Once I have these down, I start laying out the scenes. I color code the first few words of the scene description to fit the POV character.

I used this method for writing my NaNo novel and I was able to fly through the first draft of that book in 20 days. Granted this was during the insanity that is NaNo and I don't intend to push through Lily and the Lawman that quickly, but it sure was helpful to have that plan to go by. And the couple times during NaNo that I had a hard time getting words out it was when I'd veered off the plan I'd laid out before hand.

If there's one thing I've learned through this growth to plotting journey, it's that it is so much easier tweak a five page synopsis/overview/outline/scene list than it is to rewrite entire chapters.

This writing journey is just that--a journey. Methods change as I grow in my understanding of the merging of craft and creativity, method and imagination.


  1. That's an amazing board. And colorful too =) I'm really anxious to get to know Lily!

  2. Viewing your work as a journey. Being open to growth. Brilliant. And your "Confessions" and some of our conversations inspired my Friday blog post. Shameless plug.