If you’re like me, then plotting is as frustrating as doing the back-stroke in the middle of a mud puddle.
Everybody keeps telling me to plot my novels before I even sit down to write. I even read one book that claimed that she could convince me to plot, even though I’m a pantser. I got excited. I could be converted. But by the time I got to the middle of her book, I got so overwhelmed that I almost froze trying to wrap my head around her system.
In my quest to become a better writer, I sat myself down and gave myself a good talking to! And in the process, I came up with these six steps for “plotting”–pantser style!
1. First of all you must decide on a story to tell. This goes without saying.
2. Write down everything you know about the story–loosely plotting. You can change it as you go if you need to. Most importantly, you need to know how it’s going to end. If you know the ending of the story, it will drive everything thing that you write to that point.
3. Decide on a theme. Come up with that theme in one sentence. For Soulfire I had two-”Stand for Truth and Righteousness at all times,” and “How would the Lord prepare the wife of a prophet?” In The Penny Project, the theme is “You love whom you serve.
4. Write down your cast of characters, starting with your protagonist. Describe him/her including important details. Give your MC a huge character flaw which he/she will have to overcome by the end of the story. In my current WIP, my female character, Havala runs when confronted with difficult situations. Her love interest, Mehlo, is highly superstitious. In the end, she will have to stand up and fight, and he will have to face his cultural values.
5. Next create your setting. Write down as much as you know about the environment, the political, spiritual, societal situation. Put your characters in situations where they will have to confront their flaws within the setting. This is called “world-building.” Even if you are writing real-world, contemporary fiction, you will still need to decide on where to place your characters and what the world looks like to them.
6. Last, sit down and start writing. Enjoy the discovery, while understanding your characters’s flaws, the theme, and the setting, and what the end will be.
Not every story has to follow a formula.