It has been a week now since I returned from the RWA conference in San Diego, and things are slowly returning to normal. As much as I enjoyed spending time with the other writers at the conference, it is nice to be able to focus more on my writing again.
I am in the research and plotting stages of a new historical romance. This one is not a western, but instead takes place in England during the Georgian period. I have had most of the plot written out ever since I got the idea for this story years ago. But I felt it would be worth the time now to take another look at what I had, and see if it needed to be expanded. I have learned I am definitely a “Plotter” not a “Pantser,” so I might as well embrace the label and apply what it means to my latest story.
Writers who are “Pantsers” seem to enjoy the freedom of writing without a plan, just putting down whatever scene comes into their head. Not “Plotters.” Not me. I learned this lesson through hard experience. I tried to take less time for plotting before I wrote my last two stories, and it ended up slowing me down. Whenever I got to a part where I didn’t have a clear idea of what happened next, I “froze up” and couldn’t write until I figured it out. It ended up taking more time to write the stories this way than it would have if I took the time to think it all out ahead of time.
So now I acknowledge, I am a “Plotter” through and through. Having learned my lesson, I am writing a detailed summary of my new story before I start the manuscript. The next step is seeing how it fits into a standard story plot structure. I like to use a combination of Blake Synder’s Beat Sheets describing the key points of a story, overlaid on the visual diagram of a “W” plot structure.
As I mentioned earlier, I already had a multi-page summary written up. In fact, given I wrote the original summary long before I knew anything about plot structure, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it fell into place on a “W” plot diagram. Most of the key points were already in my story summary, although I did need to beef up the “Black Moment” and the “Dark Night of the Soul” moment at the end when the hero thinks he has failed completely. (I guess I was in too much of a hurry to get to the Happily Ever After!)
Once I figure out some key places to sprinkle in bits of the back story, I think my outline will be in good shape. That makes me happy. This story idea has been dormant in the back of my mind for a long time, waiting patiently for me to get to it. Soon, it will come to life on the pages of my next manuscript. I’ll keep you updated on each key stage of my story’s development.
I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.