Slice of [my] Life

a writer's piece of the pie

How to be a Plotter & a Pantser at the same time

I’ve been working on The Blood Within, part of my House of Reinhardt series, for the past few weeks. While I’m having a blast writing it, it’s still being a pain in my bum. See, I’m usually a hardcore plotter. I’m talking outlines, timelines, diagrams, post-its & bulletin boards. And normally, those things work for me. But when I started TBW, I wanted to take things a little differently. I wanted to let the creative process find it’s own way. I have the basic points mapped out in my head, sure, but how am I going to get there? I don’t know! It’s been…interesting. Sometimes, I surprise myself with my spur-of-the-moment-quick-thinking. Other times, I want to bang my head against a very sharp, metal instrument.

The first few chapters were super awesome! I wrote them quickly and with no problems, and they don’t need much editing. But the further in I get, the worse off I am. Some of the chapters took me DAYS to write and they still need a serious round of red-penning.

I thought things couldn’t get much worse. A few days writing a single chapter–no biggie. I can deal.

Boy, was I wrong.

Nothing has been as trying as Chapter 8.

I’ve had some serious bonding issues with Chapter 8 for about 3 days. THREE. He just wouldn’t play nice, and by ‘wouldn’t play nice’ I mean I’d spit out 200 words and Chap 8 would throw them back in my face, laughing! I’m talking I’d write 1000 words only to delete 1500. Yes, he’d actually make me delete words that had NOTHING to do with him! Can you believe that? Chap 8 has a mind of his own! I mean, come on; get with the program!

Despite our domestic problems –after much fighting and hair pulling– Chapter 8 is done (for now) and I’ve moved on to the next part (which I’m calling Chapter 8B since it’s still in 8 but is a different scene).
Now I’m trying really hard to get 8B to play nice but I don’t want to piss him off, so I decided to do a little exercise to get the creative juices flowing. It’s not exactly “pantsing”, but it’s not quite “plotting” either.

Mind Mapping is a great way to get the juices flowing & get a little direction in your writing. The key is to keep both halves of your brain working together. The left side is your analytical side, and the right side is your creative side. Personally, I tend to let my left side take over. I start putting things in organized columns and rows, complete with bullet points. But that ends up stifling your creativity! If you can Mind Map correctly, you’ll be a much happier writer and your story will thank you. You’ll use both logic and creativity. When you Mind Map, don’t let yourself focus on order or neatness. Let the ideas fill up the page. Use bright colors in random places. Make squiggly lines, little doodles, lots of notes jotted here and there. Use lines and bubbles to keep your ideas in order (you’re right brain needs a little action, after all..) but don’t let order override your creativity. Maybe your Mind Map will be a little prettier, but this is what I came up with.

Here’s my Map, just starting off. There are a few key pieces that I already knew were going to happen. ((Sorry about the lighting…))

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And here’s my Map finished. See all the craziness?!

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**Does Mind Mapping seem like something that could work of you? What methods do you use to piece your books together?

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Plotting, Writing | Leave a comment