11 years ago | Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

Here's something I'm curious about: How do other people do plots for their stories?

Personally, I tend to come with the general shape of the plot and then fill in the details later. In my current serial, I generally think about the arc I'm working on in great detail without too much thought to what that means for the specifics of what comes later.

Thus I've got my current serial divided into three parts, but I don't know many specifics about what's going to happen in part two or part three. I've got some specific scenes planned out, but I don't know exactly how I'll get to them. I've just got a vague sense of what part of the story they appear in.

I leave a lot open for spur of the moment ideas even in the well planned parts (like the current arc I'm writing).

Do other people do anything similar? Totally different?

Read responses...

Page: 123


  1. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 11 years ago

    I probably do pretty much the same as you. At the end of every "chapter" (I didn't know there were even going to *be* chapters until the end of the first one came along), I spend a couple of days coming up with a general direction for the next one. Not often a destination, just a direction. Then I wait for the conversations and actions to carry things along. When it works, the writing is easy. When it doesn't . . . well, that's when I spend 12 hours writing 500 words.

    I prefer when it works.

    The overall story has a basic plot arc, but I don't know if I'm actually going to end up following it, and I have several possible endings in mind. In any event, much of this story has flowed from the characters and their backstory, and the very nature of their universe, which seems to work for me. I guess good constraints really do make it easier.

    Good topic.

  2. Stormy (Moderator)

    Posted 11 years ago

    Mirrorfall was written completely by the seat of my pants, which was cool - the story was old and familiar so I didn't have to worry about the details, I knew where I was headed. However, doing it that way led to some cool new things (Merlin, Madchester and a discussion on clowns).

    Mirrorheart, I've actually had to plan, if only because of the SOS chapters (a couple of them had real chapters that had to coincide with them) - it's also not familiar like MF was - as the story is going in a completely different direction.

    The next book...think I'll do a basic plot sketch, then fill in the details via the seat of the pants method.

  3. Warlocktopus (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    Whenever I sit down to plot out a story, two men burst into my room. One of them is short and wears a hat, one of them is tall and has his hair incompetently slicked down, as if his head were so high up that he couldn't reach all of his hair.

    "You the writer?" says the short one.

    "I'm- I'm A writer." I say, confused.

    "Yeah, but are you the writer?" he says again, pointing a cigar at me. "You the one who can see people from other dimensions?"

    "I- I'm sure I wouldn't know-" I stammer, before the big one interrupts.

    "Vinnie." he says, trying to get the short one's attention.

    "Don't you give me none of that, wise guy!" says Vinnie. "Either you's the guy who sees extradimensionals, or you's ain't. Now which one's it?"

    "Vinnie." says the big guy again, more insistently.

    "C'mon! Out with it!"

    "Vinnie." says the big guy with a large sigh. "It occurs to me that we are having a conversation with him. Thus, he can see us, can't he?"

    Vinnie stops. "Oh. Yeah, you're right, Eddie." he says after a visible time spent thinking. This bothers me- I'm one of those people obsessed with seeing characters be balanced with one another, and Eddie seems blessed with both great size and prodigious intelligence, while Vinnie is left bereft of any creator's gifts. The lack of equilibrium bothers me.

    Vinnie pulls out a sheaf of papers and tosses them in front of me. "Here's your basic plotline for The Magical Brothers. Follow it, or else."

    "What?" I say, quickly losing track of what's going on. "What for? Or else what?"

    "The first is not for you to know." says Eddie, calmly. "The second involves egregious pain and a creative use of cloning and telepathy to make it twice as bad as usual."

    I look over the papers, trying to remain calm. "Man- this isn't how I wanted it to go at all! I wanted to use a dragon. You've always got to use a dragon!"

    "No dragons." says Eddie.

    "You know how they usually are worth, like, a big pile of gold?" says Vinnie. "Well in your case, every dragon is worth a kneecap."

    "Right, right. No dragons." I say, very quickly, mentally adjusting to the plot I've been handed. "Okay, okay, so then, I'll just follow this- what kind of leeway do I have?"

    Eddie shrugs. "You can characterize and work with dialogue as you like, Mr. Laws. Simply stick to the-"

    "Don't make anybody gay." says Vinnie.

    Eddie looks down at his partner with a furrowed brow. "Pardon?"

    "Don't make anybody gay!" says Vinnie, with a shrug and a 'What's your problem?' expression on his face. "I ain't got nothin' against fags, really, but man, I hate that shit when someone just turns out to be gay because the author thought it'd be some big shit or somethin'."

    "But one of the brothers has a-" I start to protest.

    Vinnie curls his lip at me and I see his fist clench.

    "Nobody gay." I say.

    Vinnie nods, a big smarmy smile on his face, while Eddie rolls his eyes.

    They leave me with the papers and a few vague threats of their return, vanishing as swiftly as they'd appeared. The only signs they'd even been here are the plotline in my hands and the smell of Vinnie's cigar, slowly fading.

    That is how I am left with my general plot plan, and with wondering how much subtext I can get away with.

    It happens every time.

  4. DustinM (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    At first I thought you were doing some kinda clever way to say that you let your characters determine the plot. By the end, I think I just want some of whatever it is you're smoking. I think I could come up with some really far out stuff with it. :D

    Blog Fiction: (n) Serialized literature published to a blog that is written in a diary format.
    Blog Fiction Forums
  5. Stormy (Moderator)

    Posted 11 years ago


  6. Morgan O'Friel (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    Lols, warlocktopus. My process seems to be a lot like the general consensus here. I tend to have a general plot for the over-all arc and for the specific episodes, which fill themselves out as I write. Sometimes I know more, sometimes I know less -- with my current project, I prefer to know much less of the general arc and only vague inklings of the specific episodes -- it works better for me that way.

    Morgan's Fiction Website - LGBT urban fantasy web serials, shorts, and more.
  7. allantmichaels (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    With Superstition, I usually have the ending figured out, and I get myself there.

    For AEOL, I've got a page and a half long outline, with the major beats. There are details that fill in as I go.

    So pretty much like everyone else here, it seems. I also have some character sketches for each major character.

  8. Flak (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    Iiii unlike others here take a far less organized approach (at least to my current project Night Switch). I had some vague plot ideas at first but now I'm just winging it while keeping my characters in character (hopefully!). My more serious projects usually involve some outlining and such but right now I'm living the dream, I'm posting whatever I type up. Oddly, quality hasn't suffered over Night Switch's run. This either says cool things about my improvisation ability or really, really dim things about my ability to write.

  9. Sora (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    I just write until something readable comes out. That's been working out well... not. lol

    I'm current trying charts and little sketches, but I have yet to use them. It seems like it's been working for others though, so I'm hopeful.

  10. Sarah Suleski (Aspiring Mudpie)

    Posted 11 years ago

    I come up with ideas and plotlines and general story arcs.

    And then end up writing something completely different.

    Every time.

    Oh well.

    I am a writer, a writer of fictions... and I've written pages upon pages trying to rid you from my bones
    (lyric from The Engine Driver by The Decemberists)
  11. Sora (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    I have a feeling that all the time I'm spending on plotting is going to go just the way you just mentioned.

    As long as it gets written, I guess.

  12. Tahjir (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago

    I've got the general storyline plotted out, who goes where and what happens when, but aside from that it's all last minute stuff. I tend to write each chapter by hand, then put it away for a day or two before posting. I try not to read it until it's time to post.

    While transferring it onto the computer, I edit and rewrite things, as I've usually thought of new or better ideas by then.

    Apocalyptic Urban Fantasy
  13. Drew Daniels (Moderator)

    Posted 11 years ago

    As for me, I have only a few things plotted out. How it ends, and what happens to certain characters along the way.

    The advantage in my opinion is that I'm free to let the story write itself to its inevitable end

    The downside is that because the entire thing is on the fly, I could invariably end up putting the main character in a situation where he ends up dead or otherwise incapable of reaching my desired end result. Which has almost happened twice with my penchant for beating the hell out of my MC.

    Luckily I was writing in advance at the time and had time to adjust.

    Oh... and Warlocktopus... I love reading your posts.

    I'm a skill-less teenaged hack with an Angel fanfic... Or so I've been told.
  14. Sonja Nitschke (Member)

    Posted 11 years ago're my hero.

    On topic, I usually write by the seat of my pants. Which sucks when I unintentionally write myself in a corner. I've tried outlines before but I usually end up not following them so I just skip that step now.

    Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand. -- Kurt Vonnegut

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