PLOT is a four letter word

When I think about plot, I cringe. Devising a plot in my current manuscript has given me fits.

I've always been a pantser which I find easy for short stories, but is proving extremely difficult for me at a novel length.

By definition, plot is a literary term referring to all the events in a story that take us from the beginning to the end. The most basic plot structure consists of three acts: the inciting incident, the main conflict and the climax. Seems simple, right? But it's so much more complicated than that. There are story arcs and critical choices and reversal and resolution-lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Author and literary agent Weronika Janczuk gave an excellent mini-clinic on plot this week at writeoncon.com. I highly recommend you click on over there and absorb it.

I particularly loved her description about challenging your character,
...throw rocks at her, I guarantee you - I guarantee you - that, even if you have a beautifully rewritten and polished manuscript in front of you, ready to query, which an agent may sign and even sell, you could have challenged your character more.
She also gave a wonderful explanation of a plot template which turns out doesn't have to be a step-by-step list of scenes or chapters, but can help you explore your story arc before you take the plunge into your novel.
This really clicked with me and gave me a renewed sense of excitement about my current project.

So now I'm off to write as a pantser with a plot template. Lions and tigers and bears beware.


Steph said...

Plot is not easy, is it? I definitely feel your pain. But this is terrific advice that you've written about and I think it's advice that would help all writers.

Don't you just love it when you feel a renewed sense of inspiration? I know I do! Good luck with your latest project!

Steph (the Book Junkie)

Lisa Potts said...

Nope, plot is hard. Now that the WriteOnCon conference is over, I'm looking forward to digging back in.

Thanks for posting!

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

I think WriteOnCon slowed a lot of us down, but it was worth it. Such great info! But it's true--it's really hard to be a pantser with novel-length fiction. Just so many variables. God luck with your plot template!

Lisa Potts said...

Thanks, Carolina.

WriteOnCon was fantastic! I'm still digesting everything. Those are some pretty amazing women that put that all together.

Cinette said...

Plotting for a pantser like myself has me constantly backtracking. Can I still access writeoncon info on this topic?


Quinn said...

I'm the opposite. I have no trouble coming up with a novel-length plot. But I'm trying to write a short story for the first time and I just have no idea how to go about it. I mean, I know what I want them story to be about, but figuring out the plot and how it will all work ... no idea.

Madeleine said...

Thanks Lisa, I'll check out the writeoncon.com link. Great post.
Yes plotting can be hard, it requires alot of thought. I find country walks help with mine, by I'm still working on it :O)

A Buckeye Girl Reads said...

One of the hardest problems I've had getting started is plotting out my story. I know what direction I want to go, but plotting it out eludes me for some reason.

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