I (Carrie) was at a conference one time and hanging out with a bunch of celebrity young adult authors. One author said he wrote everything down in an outline form first.
Another author said that she wrote expressly to the Save the Cat beatsheet.
And I said, “I just kind of write.”
They gasped. I ordered a drink with actual alcohol in it and another writer saved me by saying, “I, like Carrie, just write after doing decades of research in a dark and lonely hole in my basement drinking only Post-um mixed with grape Fanta and crying the tears of salty mirth while trying to contact Dickens on my Ouija board.”
I kid! I kid! Nobody tried to save me. They just gasped.
So, here’s the thing: some writers just write. They don’t plot first. They just write and hope for the best.
I, Carrie, am oft. en one of those writers. We vomit it all out on the page and watch the structure form. And sometimes? Sometimes we have to revise a lot because of this.
And some writers can’t start until they’ve got the whole story nicely plotted out in intricate details.
And some writers are somewhere in between.
You might not even write the same way every time. Some books you might plot out completely. Some books you might not plot at all. Some books you might get to 40,000 words and scream and yank out the beat sheet from Save the Cat and drink whiskey straight and roll around on your floor amongst the tumbleweeds of dog fur and cry.
No personal experience there or anything. But when you do get stuck, it’s good think of how to work out your plot. Here are a couple ways.
OLD SCHOOL BABY.
You make an outline. You use Roman numerals. You write it all down. Act 1, 2, 3. Chapters. Scenes. You feel proud that you remember things from when you were in grade school. You are proud of your beautiful ability to be linear.
OLD SCHOOL BACKWARDS
You do the outline but you do it backwards because you know the ending but you just don’t know how to get there.
You write the beginning, the middle, the end. Maybe you write down the big horrifying moment where everything sucks for your character. There. You’re good.
This is intricate man. This is the way you tell each beat in each scene. It’s going to be a lot of pages. You’re basically writing the book without the dialogue or a lot of setting.
CHARACTER ARCING IT
You’re just writing about your characters and what happens to them. How do they evolve and transform.
IT IS ALL IN THE MIND.
You make adorable bubbles and connect words to ideas. It’s adorable like you.
IT IS ALL TALK
You say to your character, “Hey, tell me what happens.” Then you write the dialogue of the characters telling you what happens.
Some of us like images and pictures to help us plot. We might cut things out of magazines if we actually still have magazines or we might use Pinterest.
WHITE BOARDS AND INDEX CARDS AND SPREADSHEETS
These sexy beast are like binders. They organize your thoughts and then allow you to reorganize your thoughts again and again.
I HAVE A TEMPLATE AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT!
Some writers find these super restrictive and some writers want to give them a massive smooch and cuddle with them on the couch in front of a warm fire. Save the Cat, Joseph Campell, the Six-Act Structure are all adorable and sexy templates you can use when you want to get your story to work.
WRITING TIP OF THE POD
Usually we plot so that we have a way to go, a roadmap. Some of us just like to drive. It doesn’t matter. There’s no one damn way to write your novel.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
You get to live your life according to your rules, your wants and thoughts and needs.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!
NEW BOOK ALERT!
I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.
Here’s what it’s about:
A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.
A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.
And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.
What would you do to make a difference?
After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.
Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.
Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.
From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED series, Saint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.
BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.