Friday, May 16, 2008

Getting back to basics to find the plot...

I've been reading Debby Guisti's blogs with much interest as I'm a big fan of the Donald Maass workshop. Sometimes I find myself falling back on old habits and I need to remind myself that there is a process to writing a book that I should never rush.

I'm not a heavy plotter. In fact, my plotting is basic at best. I'm a puzzle/pantser writer. I can write a 15-20 page outline that will give me a roadmap as to where I'm going with the story. But there are two other steps that have always been essential for me to "get into the head" of my characters and create that roadmap. If I skip them, I'm in trouble.

The first process is letter writing. I tell people in my workshops that I'm a big fan of not "reinventing the wheel" so I have to give credit to Robin Lee Hatcher for this technique since I got it from an RWR article many, many years ago. I take each main character in my book and write a first person letter in their point of view to me. I start out when they were a child, i.e. I was born in Tulsa, and go all the way up to when the story begins. I've gotten a lot of good information that rounds out my characters and gives them personality just by writing this way.

The second process I use is placing all my plot points into a 4 Act structure chart. I use the Syd Field screenwriter's workshop that I learn years ago from attending a workshop author Pat Grasso did at a conference. It was one of those transforming moments in my writing because I found I could really see the progression of my story and fix any holes I had before I started writing.

I find that when I skip any one of these steps in the beginning stages of my writing, I get myself and my story into trouble. Lesson learned and reading through Debby's post made me realise I need to get back to basics.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello

1 comment:

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Lisa,
I left for Huntsville, AL, on Friday morning to attend the Heart of Dixie Readers' Lunch, which is always a great event. So today I'm catching up on our Craftie Ladies' blogs.

Thanks for the tip about writing a letter in your main character's POV. Sounds like something I should do!

Glad you're a Donald Maass fan! The Wednesday blogs are helping me to internalize his techniques. Hopefully, my writing will improve along the way! :)