Thinking of a Master Plan

When I find this, I'm going to get it! (Not mine.  Misc. feed pic.)

Writing Wednesdays: Thinking of a Master Plan

Perfect on the path. (Morgue File)

Plans, planning, planed, structure, architecture, form, function, design, layout, map, guide, road, path, pictured, pattern, organized, imagined, dreamed, schemed, vision, etc.

So, how do your ideas and stories come together?  I'm guessing it is some combination of the options up top right (Yes, I did forget to a add "pulled out of my bum", thank-you for reminding me.) This is usually the point at which such a conversation would devolve down to plotters vs. pantsers.  Amazingly, this article will not disappoint.

Plotters are usually thought of as those who execute a meticulously pre-planned structural layout with luggage (and I'm talking the nice stuff here like awesome steamer trunks full of detailed goodness, not the small duffel-sized bag I pack for my 3-week motorcycle trips).  Pantsers, on the other hand, are more like my missing option… thought to be pulling stuff out of their bums as they go.

"Overkill is highly underrated."
Hannibal Smith, The A-Team

“I love it when a plan comes together!”
Hannibal Smith, The A-Team

Which side of Team Hannibal are you on?

Things that make you go Hmmmmmmm:

If you think about it, “Pantsers” should technically be “Plotters”, anyone thinking enough to put on their pants before heading out for adventure, obviously planned ahead! (Besides, does that mean Plotters sit around without any pants on? Because that would just be weird.)

I think that there are honestly NO strict Pantsers or Potters—at least there shouldn’t be.  I think all writers are planners.   Planning is good.   You want to at least start with a plan, even if it’s no more than an idea.  As long as you have an idea, you have a place to start.  Even a bad plan is a place to start. It says you thought about it ahead, and that IS a plan.  Besides, no plan is unchangeable.  As you get to know your stories and characters better, by writing them, your plans will change.  (It is a plan, not an execution order you wrote down, right?)

Whoo Hoo! What a ride! (MorgeFile)
Trying too hard to come up with a highly detailed and perfect plan is ridiculous and unpractical. It’s like a writing version of OCD. Life isn’t perfect, it’s messy. If it is boring for your characters to be “perfect”, how exciting are things going to be in your story if everything is perfect? This type of over-planning can lead to a complete lack of actual writing, because you are so busy double checking your underwear count for the trip, that you miss the boat.

Side Note for true Plotters: 

Perfect plotting OCD could be a huge cause of writer’s block for you, because it can lead to complete inaction.

Waltzing out into the wilderness with a pair of strappy, high-heeled Jimmy Choo’s, a short skirt, and meat shirt (a la Lady Gaga), although interesting to start, shows obvious tendencies towards disaster.

Side Note for true Pantsers: 

Squirrel Syndrome, as I call it (“Oooh, Squirrel! Shiny thing!”), could be a huge cause of writers block for you because you keep straying from the path, getting distracted, and ultimately losing it along the way.

I can almost see the Plotters eyes’ twitching, and the Pantsers scratching their bums right now. Before either of you panic, here is a simple plan to get you started.

Not my flowchart.  I found this in a twitter feed last week – not sure where – but I thought it showed the essence of how to be a successful writer, so I’m sharing it, even though I don’t know who came up with it (they are probably busy being a successful writer right now).

By definition, if you are a writer, you write.  If you only plan and never take that step out of the door, you are a planner, not a writer.  So, find something in the middle.  Pack a few essentials: a protagonist, an antagonist, a big problem or question, some back story, and a rough idea of how things might work out, and head out to adventure!

Plotters, throw open your windows of caution and breathe deeply (then write!).  Pantsers, take time to grab a pocket knife, a bottle of water, some duct tape, and go use it (to write with, of course!).  You may be headed for disaster (if you never get farther than that first idea), but at least you’ll have your pretty, pedicured feet on the path, and as a writer that is half the battle.

We overcome mountains daily (in a 101 different ways).

Not my pic, Twitter feed in action again!

Plotters and Pantsers alike, you are all Great Writers! Now think up a master plan, go out, and write something great!

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