A former book publicist, an American Title II finalist, and now a full-time writer, Theresa Meyers has seen multiple facets of the industry on her path to becoming a multi-published romance author. She currently writes for paranormals romances for Harlequin Nocturne, steampunk romances for Kensington and dark urban fantasy for Entangled Publishing.
Her latest book, The Vampire Who Loved Me, hits shelves May 25th.
Plotting for Success
Writing is difficult and rewarding, but even at the best of times writers often wonder, how can I make my process easier? Sometimes it’s as easy as tracking what you do on a day-by-day basis, and seeing how you work to discover your process and look for ways to refine it. Other times it’s looking at the elements of creating a book in the first place – such as characterization and plotting.
While not every author is a born plotter, the truth is once you sell, you’ll have to become a least a pretend plotter. Why? Because editors will want a synopsis and some chapters in order to consider your contract. Can you be one of those writers who only sells finished books? Of course you can, but it’s going to be a long, long process. There have been many times since my first sale where an editor has turned down proposal after proposal until we came upon the right idea for an option book.
What would I have done if each of those proposals (which took me two weeks apiece) had been full books? I would have written for years between releases without a sale. That’s hardly a way to build a readership!
One way I found to make my writing process smoother and more efficient is to pay attention to my plotting. There’s all kinds of tools I use (and for those of you that are pantsers, believe it or not there’s tools that can help you too!) to make it easier. Personally, I tend to think of myself as more of a plantser – part plotter, part pantser, who finds that the organization gives me the structure to let my muse go wild.
Here’s three things you can do right now to help you make your plotting go faster and easier:
1. Create a conflict chart. By knowing what main characters’ (hero, heroine and villain if you have one) goal, conflict and motivation are, you can already begin to lay out scenes that will be critical to the story. Keeping track of those on a simple conflict chart can make your plotting more productive. It also allows you to see how internal and external scenes will impact the GMC of your characters.
2. Apply the Rule of Three. Whenever I know there has to be an element in the story, I know straight from the start that it has to appear at least three times before I can give my reader a payoff. Even if I don’t know what those scenes might be yet, I still label them #1, #2, #3 and payoff in my list of scenes. But the rule of three has bigger applications than just foreshadowing in a story. It can also act as a guidepost as you move through your story making sure you give your romance and subplots adequate attention and don’t drop storylines or important threads.
3. Try using visuals to help you. Some authors find that collages work wonders to bring their story to life, others use just images of their characters and locations to inspire them. But when it comes to plotting I’ve found a plotting board is an amazing tool. By dividing up a poster board into squares – one per chapter—I can use different colored sticky notes to visually track story threads and characters chapter by chapter – one sticky note per scene or major character development. I have a smaller plotting board for novellas, one I use for category length, and another for longer books. This helps me get a visual look at the layers of the story and see where I might have holes or need to pump up my pacing when reaching critical turning points in the story.
These are just a very small sampling of the kinds of tools I will be talking about in detail during the upcoming all day workshop on Saturday, May 14th (http://bit.ly/g8d9aY). If you’re close by in Idaho, I’d love to share with you the many other tools I’ve collected to help with plotting. While every writer is different, we are all storytellers. Finding better and faster ways to shortcut to the actual writing is one key to being more productive, and ultimately more successful at what we do.
Discover The Truth About Vampires 3-1-11
Find me on Twitter www.twitter.com/Theresa_Meyers