Of course, those of you familiar with their blog will understand why, even as I type this post, I'm reading each word in a lovely Southern drawl. (I just wanna fit in…and these ladies make it sound so dang cool!)
Plus, just look at 'em, they're as precious as June bugs!
Did I do that right??? No?! Fine, here they are, Katie and SF:
TITLE: PLOT HEADS
Hey there Kim Derting Fans!
Today we are honored to be guest blogging about a subject we are currently wrestling with, and that is PLOT. Lately, we have been poring over websites and blogs looking for ways to effectively structure our novels and have discovered a few gems we'd like to pass along.
KATIE: My favorite way to plot a book remains to follow the guidelines of screenwriters. SF and I have this wonderful link to screenplay structure on the side of our blog that I frequently read. You can read it here. But just recently I discovered this blog and oh what a gem it is! I can't wait to really analyze all the ins and outs of her theory, which, as luck would have it, are related to screenplays as well!
SF: Okay, I do love the screenplay structure website (the first one mentioned), especially when I'm writing picture books. It helps me to divide up my 800 or so word manuscript into three parts and really work on where events occur in the narrative. I find that with a picture book, I can usually summarize the plot in a few phrases, and I write these onto a timeline like the one illustrated on the site. And, then I wiggle the words and pacing around so that it fits into the screenplay structure.
But, when I work on a novel, it's a totally different story (ha! literally!). My novels always start with character, never plot. I write, write, write about my characters and let them be whatever it is they want to be. Until . . . until I have to face the fact that in a novel, there must be some sort of structured plot--you know, stuff's gotta happen. So then, I let my characters act and fail and act again.
This fall, I discovered The Plot Whisperer. The Plot Whisperer's blog posts throughout the month of December 2009 outline a month long plotting exercise for writers with a completed first draft. Going through this thirty-one day process, I was able to nail down exactly what my book was about and where the action lulled. I identified subplots and themes, and I was able to see my novel as something whole and cohesive. One of my favorite things that the Plot Whisperer prescribed was to 1) divide up the book into three distinct parts (a fourth, a half and a fourth--a little different from the screenplay diagram) and 2) read the beginning and then immediately read the end. I think as writers, we often get lazy toward the end of the book and simply tie up loose ends. The end should echo back to the beginning and should be as strong as the beginning.
The Whisperer also believes that there should be a thematic plot as well as a plot full of action and character development. Figuring out what my theme was in my novel was tricky, to say the least, but once I figured it out, I was able to write with a stronger sense of purpose.
So, try these out, and you too can be a PlotHead . . . (ha!)
Great, great, great tips, ladies! I’m seriously checking these links out, because well, who couldn’t use a little help with plotting???
And now it’s your turn, leave a comment and you’ll be entered into the BIG GIVEAWAY!!! It ends July 16th, so don’t miss your chance!