Entering unchartered territory – ROW80 check in

Me driving down the road to a finished WIP

There is one thing about being a plotter: you know the details of the story before you get there. As I’ve learned from reading James Scott Bell’s book “Plot & Structure“, I’m a as-far-as-the-headlights-reach type of plotter, which means that I plot detailed chapter outlines about 5-10 chapters in advance. Enough so that I can see where I’m going but then what is beyond is in the dark. Of course I’m on the right road because I know how the story ends and thus, where I will end up.

This week I didn’t write everyday like I planned. Apparently slow and steady wins the race isn’t the motto that works for me. I’m more of the rabbit until I get to where the headlights don’t reach and I have to pull over and start plotting again.

Wait this little one doesn't look like a fast hopper

Maybe I'm more like this one?

So this week I finally reached my weekly goal of 5,000 words and I wrote 5,525 words. I also read a lot on the craft – currently reading “Story Engineering” by James Scott Bell. A very nice colleague of mine lent me some books in my genre, which I wouldn’t have picked up myself. So because they are on loan and come sort of recommended, I think I’m going to try to keep an open mind and read through them front to back. So I’m broadening my horizons I hope.

Now that I’m entering uncharted territory in my WIP, I will need to plot for a while. Last time this happened, I plotted 10 chapters in detail on a Sunday afternoon. Let’s see if I can figure out the sequence of events that I know are going to happen and maybe I can think of a few new scenes to help me get where I need to be. I have a feeling it will be a little harder this time since I’m plotting the second half of the manuscript. It gets more complicated and I’m not sure how certain things will develop yet. So I will be checking out StoryFlix.com, where Larry Brooks is blogging daily on plotting tips in preparation for NaNoWriMo.

Even though I’m not participating in the NaNo, I will cheer on my fellow ROWers who are taking on the challenge. Check out my ROWsis, Em‘s, and Lena Corazon‘s support blog for those taking on NaNo: Fun not Fear blog.

The rest of the day will probably be dedicated to writing two more blog posts for this week. Monday’s post is a surprise, but it involves a famous person so stay tuned. Friday will be a Halloween-themed post and on Wednesday the ever-funny and intelligent Jenny Hansen will be guest posting here on Wednesday. So keep an eye out for that one too.

That’s it for this week. Eat lots of chocolate and candy because Halloween is approaching so its part of the festive season. But make sure you buy a bag just for yourself because we all know that dipping into the treats for the tricker treaters is inevitable and leads you to making a late night run to the store the night before. I’m all for the Reeses and Tootsies.

What’s your favorite Halloween treat? Will you need lots of candy to fuel your writing?

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About Nicole Basaraba

Nicole Basaraba is a Canadian writer focusing on topics of travel (Mondays), writing and literature (Wednesdays), lifestyle (Fridays) and her experiences living in the capital city of Europe: Brussels, Belgium.
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33 Responses to Entering unchartered territory – ROW80 check in

  1. We don’t celebrate Halloween in Holland. Nor in England where I grew up. So we don’t really have the big candy rush. My favourite however would be anything sour.

    I guess I am the same sort of plotter as you, but maybe one of my headlights is out because I don’t work so far in advance. I plot the opening and know the end. For the rest I kind of just write and plot a few pages at a time. I guess scene by scene. On occasion I just throw caution to the wind and write, then when I get stuck or have myself written into a corner I go back to plotting. I guess the good thing about Horror and Fantasy writing is there is always a way you can back out of the corners as your not constrained by the limitaitons of real life.

    • Well you could have some candy anyways because writers need sugar. I also like the sour kinds too.

      Sounds like you got a style that works for you. You made me laugh with the one headlight burnt out. πŸ™‚

  2. Em says:

    Thanks for the links! I hope your plotting goes well and you are able to see the next stages clearly. Plotting is something I definately need to work on but for NaNo I will have to do what I can..next couple of days is all about sorting my sequence of events.

    Hooray for reaching your word count and well done on a successful week! I think finshing a book even if you don’t necessarily like it can only be a good thing as it will always teach you something, even if it is how not to do something!

    • I will be sorting out the sequence of events this week too. It will be a plotting week more so than writing.

      Yes, I think I’m too picky on the topics/plot of the books I read. I’m 40 pages in to the first recommended book and I’m already slightly depressed due to the topic….oh well, I will push through maybe there is a happy ending.

  3. C.M. Cipriani says:

    I wish I was a plotter! I’m trying hard to stop pantsing though. This NaNo I have about 7 chapters lightly outlined and am writing detailed information about the cities/towns/lands/people I hope I can get them done before NaNo starts :/

    • I started out as a plotter, but I think every writer has their own way. Lots of The Greats don’t seem to be plotters. There’s about one week left until NaNo. Take my advice and have some sugar to give you the extra energy boost to get all your details down. πŸ™‚

  4. I only have a tentative plot in mind, and then the characters lead me along. Sometimes they get out of control and I have to whack them back in line.

    I love your blog header! So gorgeous…

    Hope you have a great week. Here’s my update:

    http://laurelrainsnowswonderland.wordpress.com/2011/10/23/10-23-check-in-row-80-round-four/

  5. Lena Corazon says:

    Thanks so much for plugging Fun Not Fear!, Nicole. πŸ˜€

    It seems like I write in a way that’s a bit similar to yours — it’s not full-fledged pantsing, because I do like to have a roadmap, but I never have an entire novel planned before I begin. Add the fact that I’m notoriously non-linear into the mix, and you have one very strange, very lopsided plotting style. My current outline for NaNo (which needs to be fixed up super quick) consists of a full sketch of the 15 scenes in Act II, and the first 4 scenes for Act III. That’s right — I started in the somewhat-middle, which is just bizarre, but it’s where my muse was. :p Hopefully I can pull it together before November gets here!

    Have a wonderful week!

    • If I was doing NaNo, I would want to know about Fun Not Fear so I thought I would pass along the word for others. πŸ™‚

      I don’t know if its true, but I guess a lot of writer’s get an idea or start somewhere in the middle because who knows how to write Chapter 1 anyways??? I’ve seen how organized you are and I know you’ll be ready for NaNo.

      Happy planning.

  6. Katy Bennett says:

    I tend to plot once I’ve got a first draft under my belt. You’re making excellent progress, best of luck for the week.

  7. amy kennedy says:

    So glad I found this post! I haven’t even updated yet — I, too, thought slow and steady would win the race. No. No, it just made me frustrated. I’ll be plotting this week as well — think I’m doing nano, so planning ahead for that. Great post, good luck with plotting!

  8. Slow and steady hasn’t worked for me in the housework department, that’s for sure. As for plotting, I know the general story arc through the entire piece I’m working on now. Sometimes my characters take off in unexpected directions, however, which requires me to figure out exactly how that twist is going to work within my arc. One of my characters is driving me crazy right now. LOL

  9. Gina says:

    Mini Baby Ruth bars are usually my favorite, and peanut butter cups are hard to resist. Otherwise, I’m more of a dark chocolate gal!!

    Enjoy plotting! I think it’s less about the numbers, and more about direction. What’s the sense of plowing through a crazy word count if you end up deleting it the end, right? πŸ™‚

    • I like how they do the mini chocolate bars at Halloween because then you can have 4 mini ones and its equivalent to one full bar right? That’s my rationale anyways.

      Yes, I will really have to work on the plotting this week as I’m starting to get to the “meat” of the story and I want it to be more exciting and pick up the pace a bit.

  10. Awww Nicole, you’re like the sugar fairy πŸ™‚ I usually like the non chocolate things like twizzlers and skittles and blow pops! It might just be that they provide a sufficient distraction while writing? (All that chewing!) Nice job on your word count this week. Glad you got it all in, even with your trip!

    …I don’t know what you’re talking about, that first bunny LOOKS JUST LIKE YOU hehehe. Have a great week!

    • Ohhh yeaahh. I like skittle A LOT. I think the candy will keep me from getting distracted…maybe. I hope I can plot and get in a few thousand words this week. We’ll see how much candy I can rustle up.

      LOL. The first bunny is cuter, but the second bunny looks like its ready to bolt!

  11. CTKevinK says:

    Good job with the 5,000 words and your other work this week, all progress is good and you seem to have made a lot of it.

  12. Kudos to you for being able to plot like that. I wish I could. Plotting takes the fun out of it for me. I like to see what happens when I sit down. Granted, sometimes that leads to multiple edits, but I’m mostly about the fun of it. Now, getting published, is the hard part. Writing was just great fun.

    Good luck in your plotting!

    • For me, the story came as an idea/plot. So I knew how it unfolded before it started. It helps me to plot out what to cover in each chapter because then the idea is there waiting for me to write it.

  13. Hartford says:

    Woot woot – fantastic news on your progress going forward. I have a funny feeling I will be a very similar plotter and I had been wondering if I’d be able to “plot” out the entire book to the level of detail I’d want or if I’d do half and then half. I’ll be interested to hear how you make out and I’ll be hoping that it all comes together like nobody’s business for you! πŸ™‚
    Fav Halloween treat – anything! LOL!!!

    • I kind of outlined the whole thing in advance in terms of story progress, then plotted by chapter, then revised the chapter-by-chapter plotting as the story started to change slightly as I went along. It acts as a good launching point for exploration, but also keeps me grounded from going on an unrelated tangent.

  14. kerrymeacham says:

    Great job. You’re definitely Rocking The ROW!!! Snickers for me please.

  15. I always had a sort of vague outline and took it from there. Recently read an Outlining book which sold me on the aspect of a detailed outline and plotting. Definitely beneficial. Tootsie rolls! I make myself sick on those around Halloween. The only time I eat them. *grin*

    • I too started with a vague outline. I wish I would have read Story Engineering by Larry Brookes before i began writing. He gives you the tools and tips to plot enough in advance, but also leave room for creativity or “organic writing” as you go.

      Oh and I only eat tootsies and Halloween too. I’ll have to see if I can find them in Brussels…(unlikely)

  16. Yes! Someone who put a name to my writing/plotting paradigm. I call it a paradigm because that suggests there is a scientific phenomenon unfolding inside my noggin as I write. Congrats on hitting your word count this week, Nicole!

    I don’t have to talk about candy temptations today. I ate all three Reese’s full-size Peanut Butter packs I purchased yesterday to cross that chore off my list. I feel quite virtuous today.

    • Well Gloria, I like your tactic. Eat everything in one go and then all the guilt is over with in one sitting. Then you get a tummy ache and makes you not want anymore, until you feel better and get a craving again…

  17. Pingback: October Fall back – ROW80 Check in | Nicole Basaraba's Uni-Verse-City

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