I missed my last scheduled installment and I apologize! It’s been a crazy few weeks both personally and professionally. I’ve had writing projects, career ups and downs, and pneumonia (blah). I’m so much better now, and might have some good news to report in the next couple of weeks.
I hope you’re all having a great holiday week! This week, I’d like to spend a bit of time talking about craft. Plotting, specifically.
I know, I know. A lot of us are pantsers. Eschew plotting if you must! But even the best pantser need’s a push sometimes. Like, “what the heck happens next?” sort of push. When I don’t know what happens next, I tend to procrastinate. And then nothing happens.
A few years ago, a critique partner introduced me to Christopher Vogler’s “The Writer’s Journey.” At that time, I was vaguely aware of the Hero’s Journey on which it’s based. I *think* we might have talked about it once or twice when I was in film school a hundred years ago. One great thing about the book is that he uses very specific examples from movies we’ve all seen—and outlines the journey. It makes it really clear.
It’s now one of my go-to books for plot if I get stuck.
As an example, my most recent WIP is a middle grade fantasy. When I began, I had a general idea of what the story was going to be about, but no real plotline. I started by opening up Scrivener, and titling each of my chapters one of Vogler’s stops along the Journey.
These are the stops along the journey: Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the first Threshold, Approach to the Inmost Cave, The Ordeal, Reward, The Road Back, The Resurrection, Return with the Elixir.
It worked like a dream—I had an instant direction for each chapter. I could even have written part of it out of order, if I got stuck in the middle. The book practically wrote itself. J Well, you know what I mean.
It works with contemporary as well. Just take the general idea of Vogler’s stops—they’ll be more literal in fantasy or science fiction—but they’ll work for contemporary.
Other books I like for plotting are Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Any new year’s resolutions?
Mine is to read at least twenty minutes every day. And to get more exercise.
Happy New Year!