A Journey is a Journey, Even if Another Route is Taken

22 Sep

As writers, we are familiar with the Hero’s Journey as a tool used for plotting a dynamic novel. I’m looking for the “magic” element which will make plotting easy. Okay, stop laughing. Unless you are one of those unnatural people considered a natural plotter, creating a world inhabited by living, breathing characters takes a whole lot of work.

I love GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Deb Dixon.

I love Prescription for Plotting by Carolyn Greene.

I love “Discovering Story Magic” as presented by Laura Baker and Robin Perini.

I admit to falling in love. You can see my dilemma. Which method should I use? Mixing and matching plotting methods is an option I choose. In my last blog, I used the Hero’s Journey as a way of creating scenes.

Once again, I am forced to confess my weakness for charts. That’s my personality. I like things all neat and tidy and placed in a box. It’s my way of feeling a measure of control. You’re laughing again. Stop.

Carolyn Greene suggested creating The List of Twenty. I don’t know her original use for this device. During the summer as I was plotting my novel, I decided to focus on all things Greene, Carolyn Greene. I pulled out The List of Twenty and took another look.

1. Ways your character could disguise him/herself

2. Your character’s personality traits and ways you can show them through props and behavior

3. Obstacles your character must overcome

4. Red herrings

5. What’s the worst thing that could happen to my character

There were thirty-one other items listed on the page.

I did some tweaking and used the list in my plotting. I titled it: Create a List of Scenes Needed to Move the Story from the Opening to the End. It’s a mouthful, but so is the job I’m supposed to accomplish.

I had three columns.

1. Story: External Plot

2. Story: Internal Struggle

3. Story: Developing Romance

Then I went back and added:

4. Theme Thread: The Underlying message inherent in the story.

I included things such as the opening scene, inciting incident, and story resolution in column one, External Plot.

Within thirty minutes I had a list of forty scenes, and I wasn’t finished. This was the easiest method I’ve ever used.

As eternal optimists, we are all looking for that bit of magic. Please share what you feel works for you.


Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Idaho


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12 responses to “A Journey is a Journey, Even if Another Route is Taken

  1. Liz Fredericks

    September 22, 2011 at 6:43 AM

    This sounds pretty dang magical to me, Lynn. I like your grid very much and it seems the kind of thing I could carry with me. Several GemSW bloggers have mentioned the importance of writing on the go and I think this is an elegant way to manage plotting on the go. I’ll only add one tidbit with a qualifier. I suspect other people are familiar with the following but it was new to me. Treat each individual scene just as you would a chapter and each chapter/scene as you would the progression for the entire book. So, each scene should be stand alone in terms of establishing goal, conflict and motivation. Then, collectively, your chapter will have that much more punch. Obvious, yes, but now I keep it as a reminder on my bulletin board. I find it easy to forget the obvious when I’m drowning in details.

    • lynn mapp

      September 22, 2011 at 6:52 PM

      Liz, it was…crazy. I knew I needed an opening and a closing. I did a sentence for each. I asked myself what needed to happen to move from the opening to the closing. It was insane. I couldn’t believe how quickly the ideas came. I was able to include the Hero’s Journey in the process. It worked for me.

  2. Janis McCurry

    September 22, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    Another good tip, Lynn. Now, if I could just remember the others. So many ways, so little time. Thanks!

    • lynn mapp

      September 22, 2011 at 6:53 PM

      Hey Janis, it’s about taking the tips and deciding what works for you.

  3. Meredith Conner

    September 22, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    Great idea Lynn – you’ll be doing your own workshops soon with the “Mapp Method.” I prefer a simple straightforward outline myself. I can usually see the character development and sub plots within the main plot, but if not I can always highlight the different areas for a good visual.

    • lynn mapp

      September 22, 2011 at 6:55 PM

      Meredith, you are what I consider a “natural” plotter. I’m one of those people who can’t see the forest because of the trees. You are a natural wonder.

  4. Sharla Lovelace

    September 22, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Lordy, I wish I could do this. I’ve been to I don’t know how many workshops to try to force my pantser brain to cross over into the light. Closest I came was with Candy Haven’s “Plotting for Pantsers” that did an arc method. It was simple. I was all excited. Came home and got right on it…whoo hoo…look at me go. I’m plotting.

    By page ten of the actual writing, I was like a dog that snuck out of the yard to go sniff around the next block. Already off course, because my characters decided something different. So I have to embrace my pantser self, and live with the small plotting I do within scenes. 🙂

    • lynn mapp

      September 22, 2011 at 6:57 PM

      Hey Sarla, the HUGE thing you said is about embracing your pantser self. You go girl! That’s the hardest thing to do, knowing who YOU are. You know. Love and accept you and the rest will follow.

  5. Peggy Staggs

    September 22, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    You always have the best tables and helps. Thanks for the info.

    • lynn mapp

      September 22, 2011 at 6:58 PM

      Hey Peggy, you and I LOVE our charts. It’s who we are.

  6. Carley Ash

    September 22, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    This is great. Thanks, Lynn.

    • lynn mapp

      September 22, 2011 at 6:59 PM

      Carley, thanks!


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