Monday, February 17, 2014

SCWC: Plotters vs. Pantsers: To Outline or Not?

My notes from the Southern California Writers' Conference.

• Plotting can help alleviate excessive re-writes.

• Set milestones to hit (road trip analogy)

• Build plot twists into each milestone, build empathy for characters

• Pantsing enables you to get it down as fast as possible

• Backstory (side trips) helps fill in ‘road trip’

• Turning the characters loose can change the course of a book (despite your best outlining/planning)

• If you want someone to read your book, you have to be willing to hear what they have to say about it

• People can teach you how to write, but in the end you just have to write.

• Risks to both plotting and pantsing—plotting can create too much structure, make the story seem too pre-planned. The ‘life’ of free thought disappears in structured thought. How do you amble while staying on track and not wandering off?

• Conflict drives the story, not the characters.

Story-telling “beatsheet” in Excel

• Writer’s block – keep a positive outlook. Write through it or work on another story. Just KEEP GOING!

• Figure out what works for you. Beat sheets, flash cards.

• Take risks—don’t worry about what the reader thinks

• Don’t neglect your fact-checking, people live to nitpick. But don’t include TOO much. Just make it sound plausible.

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