After almost a year of resistance, and a number of years pantsing, I decided to look into this plotting business. Why have I resisted for so long? You’ve probably heard the word organic when it comes to pantsing. I like to let the ideas flow naturally from page one and see where my characters take me, rather than suffer a structure. And hand on my heart, I was worried anything to the contrary would come across as contrived. It’s a harsh word and one that has plagued me. I’m a fairly stubborn person, and I guess I’ve stuck to these thoughts as a way of protecting myself from the truth: my MS needs a revamp, and it’s going to take some plotting research to do this.
I think if I were more experienced, I’d know how to wear my pants well and keep them on. If I’d read plotting books, looked into character development, or had already written a book or two, I’d be well armed starting page one. All the critical elements would be top of mind as I forge on.
But I’m a green writer, whose pants need some readjusting. Starting from page one is not hard, but knowing where to take that plot is another story altogether – a story that may be a much harder sell.
So my green-writer status became obvious while thinking about how to change the start of my MS. If my MS is not being requested based on my query and first few pages, then I assume both are letting me down. But to know where to start, I need to think about the plot. After reading some plotting material online and also Save the Cat by Blake Snyder ( and now First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke), I found that that my MS lacks depth. And to fix or analyse my plot, I need to know where my character begins on their journey, where they end up on their journey and how the plot will take them there.
For me, it’s helped to look at my story like this. MC is at point A and wants X. To get X, they must move to point B and the inciting incident helps them get there.
From here, I can write a query blurb and this should (hopefully) show that my book has conflict and growth. And I’m not going to write my new beginning until I can do just that!
Even armed with just those elements, I could have saved myself years. I was so scared of plot outlines because I thought I would have to write down every scene. But I haven’t beaten myself up too badly about this late revelation. After all, all of this makes sense because I have written my book and spent months and months researching querying. It would have been like picking up a book that helps you translate another language from English – when you don’t know English….
So this is where I am at: looking at my character and where they start their journey – what is the one thing they need to change to help them achieve their goals. It’s a tough one but a good question to ask, and a great place to start 🙂