Saturday, November 3, 2012

Workshop Day 3

Plotting Basics: It's time for some CPR - Conceptualize, Polish, and Revise.

No matter where you are on the road of writing, unless of course you have already finished your manuscript, there's always room for CPR.

If you are in the planning/beginning stages, then plotting can be helpful as you set up the premise of your story, build your world, create characters and design the background of your manuscript.

If you are in the writing stages, plotting can aide you with the sagging middle, boring characters, dull settings and descriptions, and blocked walls.

If you are editing and revising, well good plotting tools will show you where your manuscript is weak and characters are lacking personality and settings need some spice.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite tips for plotting your novel. Need some CPR???

First Plot Puppet:

Ask questions. Don't ask questions that only demand a yes or no answer. You need details!

Is Conner a bad guy? Well, all you get with this question is, yes. Did that help you any? NO!

Ask questions such as:

Why is Conner a bad guy? What did he do that made him bad? Now, you'll get some good answers. He was a thief. He lied all the time. He tricked people. He was a bully. He kidnapped the princess. And the list goes on!

Ask questions that will open wide doors. Don't ask, why was Conner at the scene of the crime, ask what type of businesses operated on the same block as the crime scene and how could they relate to the suspect?

And now, you've got twenty new areas to explore that will add to your plot. TA-DA! A plot puppet!

Why do I call them plot puppets? Because a puppet is under the control of its master. As an author, you are the master of your manuscript and that makes the plot your puppet:)

So, back to plotting...

The businesses. What were they and how can they relate to my suspect?
There's a hardware store. And video rental. A hair salon and jewelry store right beside it. The post office is across the street and on the corner is a little cafe. the kind where breakfast is served all day and stays open all night. Then, there's a 5 and 10 store and Hallmark Stationary on the corner. Oh, and there's a quilters store with a scrapbook section in the back corner.

Okay, now that's it for now.

It's time to start asking questions. I've got so many just from this bit that I could write all night. But to par things down to the minimum for the sake of this blog post (and your patience in reading this far already.) I'll list just a few.

How was the suspect (let's call him Roger) related to the waitress at the diner?
Why does Roger visit the post office every day?
How does the quilters store and the stationary store relate to the video rental store?
Which place, or places, did the crime take place?

These questions are so open ended and I could take my story in a hundred different directions, couldn't I?

You can do the same thing. Start with a question, and build on those questions until an idea blows you sideways.

So, what questions did you come up with? Did it open up your plot?


  1. Good post. I need to poke around my protagonist and ask more questions. She has low self -esteem and I need to find out why more.

  2. Thanks for the great tips and resources.

  3. This is the problem I am having with my WIP. I know why she is doing what she does, I just don't know how her new found supernatural ability affects her in the long run. If it does.

    1. Hi Kathleen! Sometimes writing a side story, from a different POV, or even a story set after the book, or a prequel from before the book, can help us flesh out our characters. Its something I've learned in starting my second book in The EVER Trilogy, and something I'm still trying to get into. I started a prequel, in a different POV, and it really helped me get inside someone else's head and understand how they work. Maybe you could write a far off epilogue, to really see how everything changes your characters later on. Just a thought! :-)

    2. That's a great idea, Jessa. Thanks for your advice:)

      Kathleen, the question technique may help with this.Start by asking questions about where your MC lives, ask about her family, her friends, her neighborhood.

      Ask about the way her powers came to her, who gave them to her, why they gave them to her.

      Ask about those she will use the powers against and those who will be harmed by her abilities.

      Who does she love? Why? Who does she hate? Why?

      Don't rush the answers. Give it time.

      The next few workshops will hopefully help with these decisions!

      If you have any personal questions or chats, you can email

      workshop ink in the book at g mail dot com (no spaces)

  4. Ooh, so much fun! I can't wait to try this out on a future project :)

  5. I'm trying this out right now on the first few chapters. It's amazing how much it helps! The characters and scenes definitely are gaining more depth and dimension.

    1. I'm glad it's helping you so much! I plotted my entire WIP for NaNo using the methods I'm putting up on the workshop.


  6. This really helped me! I *found* an arts&crafts store that my MC Stephanie visits almost everyday. She's an artist that channels her pain and frustration into her art. It'll be an easy way for others to see what she's hiding. I didn't even know that about her.

    1. How exciting! I just love it when things like that happen!!

  7. I'm going to use this idea to add depth to those flat scenes I'm revising. Good stuff!

    1. Thanks so much! and I'm so glad this will be of help to you:)

  8. One thing I do, is as I think of questions, I open the handy dandy tool known as EVERNOTE, and write down a new note. If no one has tried EVERNOTE, you really ought to look into it. It's so well organized, and it syncs between devices, so if you're working on you smart phone, you can open EVERNOTE, write down your thought, and come back to it later when you're at your computer! It's amazing. :D

    1. That is a great tip! I haven't heard of EVERNOTE, but I'm going to look it up. Thanks!

  9. This is great, thank you! I'm learning so much :D
    I love all that you are sharing-Thank you so much!

    1. You're so welcome! I hope you are enjoying the workshop!

  10. Talynn:

    I just bestowed the Super Sweet Blog Award to you and a few others. Please stop by and pick it up. I know it's a busy month, so please just let us know the answer to this one question if not all the others.
    If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?

    Happy November and Happy writing!

  11. Great brainstorming plotting technique!


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