Despite investing a ridiculous chunk of change in plotting methods guaranteed to cure me of my evil pantser ways, I've only learned one thing. They don't work and a sucker is truly is born every minute. Granted, that's two things learned, but point is, no matter how hard I try to pin down my muse, she wriggles free and does as she jolly well pleases. So does that excuse me from throwing structure to the wind?
Um....no, not if I expect to type "the end" in this millenium. My insistence on letting my characters lead the way does have a vile side efect. It dramatically increases my risk of developing sagging middle syndrome. No, not around my waist. Rather around a third of the way into my manuscripts. And you know what? I'm sick of stalling.
For the sake of getting my stuck in the mud stories moving foward again, I thought I'd revisit some pantser survival tips that have helped me tighten my stories in the past. Maybe you'll find something useful. Or maybe you can share with me a plotting method you've found that won't make my muse break out in hives!
Pantser Survival tip #1: If you know it, write the ending first & let characters drive you toward it.
Pantser Plotting tip #2: Write the scene burning bright in your mind. Print, put in a binder and look it over often. Is a plot being born?
Panster plotting tip #3: What's the worst thing that could happen to your character right now? Make it happen. With gusto. :)
Pantser plotting tip #4: Happy characters don't dance for the muse. Throw every form of misery at them & make 'em sweat. Preferabley on page 1. :)
Pantser plotting tip #5: Stuck? Double break, pick an obstacle: organic, inorganic, elemental, suprnatural or internal. Proceed w/ story.
Pantser plotting tip #6: (Thanks to author friend, Tracy Madison)Start w/ your hook, 2 plot turning points, ending. Split the story's action b/t 20 2K chapters for an 80K book. So, up to 20K sets up beginning, 20K marks first turning point, 40K turning second point, 60K final turning point/complication and on to resolution near 80K.
Pantser plotting tip #7: No plot? No problemo! Just ask, what does your character want right now? Now. Time to throw up a roadblock. Happy characters are static ones.
Panters Plotting tip #8: Let go and let Muse. It will all shake out in the revision. (Love this method, but involves mucho rewriting. Not good for looming deadlines!)
Pantser plotting tip #9: Read your latest work before going to sleep. Ask your subconsious work on it as you sleep. Strangely effective.
Pantser plotting tip #10. Open a new email. Summarize your story like you're emailing a friend to tell her about great movie you saw. At the point of your story's block, write, "and then ___" (Fill in blank.)___ You can play w/ multiple scanarios here if you like.
And finally, the one Pantser plotting tip I rely on most often: dark chocolate and Rosa Regale in copious amounts. If this fails to ply your muse, move on to another story for a week. Then come back and re-read. New pespective can work miracles on even the most stubborn story. Hmmm....sounds like time to heed my own advice. At least on the chocolate and Rosa Regale. :)