The Boot Camp I went to last weekend helped me work out how to plot but maintain the joy of discovery I have in writing.
Just to be clear, I know how to plot. I can use all sorts of plotting patterns like the Three Act Structure or the Hero's Journey and make them work, but plotting to that level of detail always spoils the surprises for me. That's why I generally write my rough draft off the top of my head and then have to spend months restructuring and rewriting the story to tidy it all up. And I hate editing.
The big thing I learned at this boot camp is that it's okay to have a scene plan that lists for one (or more) scenes 'blow stuff up'. It's okay to have a scene plan that says 'Miso boards ship, Lonnar meets Miso, Lonnar doesn't know his memories are stolen', or 'see Wes here'.
Apparently, the important things to remember about scenes are bigger than the details. You have to know:
- if the scene fits in the beginning, early middle, late middle, or end of the story
- if the scene is a 'feel-good' scene or a 'black' scene (ie enjoying the story, rising the tension)
- if the scene moves the story forward and/or shows us about the characters
- how to get into the scene
- how to get out of the scene
It's all about the structure:
- Making sure the story has a beginning, a middle, an end.
- Making sure there are two transition points--one at the end of the beginning and one at the beginning of the end--that change everything and throw all plans into the fire.
- Checking the balance of 'feel-good' scenes and 'black' scenes and where they fall. For example, the middle will be heavy on the 'feel-good' at the beginning but heavy on the 'black' towards the second transition point.
Perhaps if I can use this method of pre-organisation with my stories, I can avoid a lot of the heavy editing I get bogged down in once I'm finished my first draft.