Monday, February 19, 2018

How to: Microplot

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you had a fantastic weekend and are ready to crank out the words this week! Today, I'm talking about microplotting. You know, that thing you do when you're furiously writing your novel. Oh! You don't do that? Don't know how? Well, sit back, relax, sip your coffee, and read on!

Some people have a detailed plot when they sit down to write their novels. If that's you, this post isn't your friend. But if you're of the other kind, the plansters, who only know where the story begins and ends when you start writing, and maybe have a couple of plot points you want to hit along the way, you may find this useful.

Microplotting isn't a long, drawn-out plot. You make decisions on the fly about what's going to happen to your characters, and you type them out like so:

In this chapter:
Beatrice will discover who has betrayed her.
How that happens:
She finds the key.
She opens the door.
She reads the riddle.
She solves the riddle, but has to seek help from Hayman to do so.
When Hayman reads the riddle, he becomes ill.
Beatrice must speak the answer aloud.
The betrayer's name appears in smoke, and it disappears just before Hayman comes to.

Then, you go above the microplot and write furiously. When you're typing out the microplot points, that's when you look up any names or important features you want to remember as you're writing. If there's something you don't know or forgot to include, type XXX in the place of the item and move on. Keep writing. Don't slow down to look it up. If you're consistent with your marker type, then you can do a find later and take the time to fact check or do research.

Microplotting can push your novel to a whole new level, but be careful of getting sidetracked. Stay on the path to the conclusion you're pushing toward. It's fun.

I don't know about all of you, but every time I've tried plotting out each chapter, I fail and end up having to scrap it and re-do the whole thing. Now, I go high-level plot points and fill in the blanks as I write. My loose outlines look something like this:
Chapter 1 - Introduce character, tone, and setting. Be sure to drop nuggets of what's coming (the beginning of change from now to the end).
Chapter 2 - Beatrice gets in trouble at school for something and a letter is sent home.
Chapter 3 - Beatrice is grounded because of the letter, and she ends up acting out at school again in some way.
Chapter 4 - Beatrice is suspended.
Chapter 5 - Beatrice meets Mark, and he ignores her because she's a "bad girl" (this makes her want to change because she really likes him).
... other chapters I fill in like the ones above.
Last Chapter - Beatrice and Mark finally get together.

So, in each chapter, I microplot how to flesh it out once I get there. Those outlines are treated as living documents and are changed often.

I hope this helps some of you when you're sprinting!

Did you find this useful? What do you do when writing? Plotter? Pantser? Plantser? Hit me with your process!

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


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