Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog: My Big Fat Goal


So today, I'm to tackle what my goals are. Danyelle thought up this topic for the month, and check out Laura's response last week, and Zoe's next week!

I've written two novels thus far, shelved one, and on the cusp of querying another. And now I'm in the plotting stage of novel number three.

Each step along the way, I learned stuff. But probably one of the biggest problems I've had is not having a good bird's eye view of my plot.

I thought I was a planner.
I thought I was an outliner.

I wasn't really. Those efforts were fairly mediocre. And so I couldn't see the plot problems until I'd already written the darn things and my betas said, "Whoa. Plot issues galore."

This time around, I'm going to do an extensive outline, character sheets, and detailed notes on world building. Any plot revisions will occur before I actually start writing.

This is a big deal for me, and may make a huge difference in my story telling. Because up until now, I've found that:
1) I'm not a bad writer.
2) But I'm not a great storyteller.

I need to work on that. And planning like a fiend is going to help me there. That's my new goal!

46 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

This sounds like a great plan. If you know your strengths, and then plan ahead how to use them to your best advantage while focusing on beefing up everything else ... you should end up with a great project, or at least a much better starting point.

Vicki Rocho said...

Good luck! I'm betting you'll be pleasantly surprised!

It's not easy getting all those loose ends tied together in an attractive bundle...and in such a way that it flows naturally.

Candyland said...

I'm the same way, and I've just started outlining too. We'll see how it goes.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Good luck, Lydia. I am sure you can do it.

JustineDell said...

Whoa, thats a whole lotta planning! Hopefully you won't miss anything this time around. Darn plots issues. I've been there. ;-)

Good luck!

JD

Slamdunk said...

Excellent advice. It has been quite an educational experience reading writer blogs and learning from their struggles.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I think one of the best ways to become a great writer is to be honest about your writing weaknesses. When you do that you have a chance of improving.

Here's to hoping your bird's eye view sharpens.
~ Wendy

Susan Fields said...

If you want to make a great outline, I highly recommend First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Wiesner (it's really an extensive outline in thirty days, not a first draft). I've used this book several times and I wouldn't dream of trying to write a book without it.

Also, I left you something at my blog today. :)

Joanne said...

The more I write, the more I see the value in detailed outlines. They really help to hold the story together, building the basic structure beforehand, embellishing it as you go. The more we know about our characters and the story, the more layers we can delve into with the writing. Good luck!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Boy, we sound like sisters. I'm going through the same things as you. I'm an outliner and pre-planner, but I'm doing things differently this time . . . much the same way you are. But then again, I know you're following the same blogs I am, like Adventures In Children's Writing. Their post yesterday (before the contest announcement) was great! I'm going to use the checklist to review my outline before I start the first draft. :D

Karen Lange said...

Hi Lydia,
Goals are a good thing, aren't they? You are inspiring me to refresh mine.

Congrats to you, you won a book on my blog! Email me at klange61(at)hotmail(dot)com with your address and book choice.
:)Karen

Mary McDonald said...

Organization seems to be the theme today in the blogosphere. I need to work on my plot for my WIP as well. *sigh*

Melissa said...

Play to your strengths. The first step in finding a solution to any problem is realizing (and admitting) that there is one. Obviously, you've done that (which is a step ahead of a LOT of people).

I'm sure you'll be surprised when, while playing to your strengths and planning for your weaknesses, you turn out a great story.

Good luck Lydia!

Cheyanne said...

I am in the exact same boat as you! I just started outlining and plotting my third novel last night, and I am determined to find every plot hole before they form!

Good luck :)

Tahereh said...

best of luck with everything! you've already accomplished so much :D

BY THE WAY, YOU MIGHT WANT TO TAKE A LOOK AT MY POST FROM YESTERDAY JUST SAYIN.

heheee

Bossy Betty said...

Great plan! I agree storytelling is an art!

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I think my first go 'round with first novel was a practice novel. I wrote it fast, and then went back and was like okay, great story but gaping plot holes and the characters were fairly flat. This time around I did more planning and did a check list of things to make sure I covered. Still came out with plot holes, but fewer and characters started to really come to life, and with a REALLY fresh (meaning in the last two days) idea I am starting from the ground up literally. Building the world first. *grumbles* (hates outlines does them anyway)
I think finding what works for each of us is so essential, and that is sometimes trial and error. Now that you have a really great plan to go forward I'm positive you'll be able to play to your strengths much easier :) Good luck!

Jennifer Shirk said...

That's a good goal. Good luck!

Munk said...

Brilliant post. The ability to learn something new about yourself, especially something you had previously defined as 'known', is an admirable quality.

JEM said...

I'm on the outlining train now, but the thought of character building KILLS me. I know I need to do it, but I don't waaaaaaaannaaaaaaaaa. Boo.
But I totally know how you feel.

lbdiamond said...

Great goal! But I just don't buy the "not a good storyteller" bit. Nope, I don't believe it. *shakes head emphatically, then crosses arms*

Plot holes can be fixed. You do a great job at description at action at dialogue--own it!

Faith said...

I learned the hard way that planning can make a world of difference too! It took me one seat-of-the-pants novel and several really terrible short stories to realize that... but sometimes, just for fun, I sit down and write things without a plan.

Of course, those are the stories that need so much more revision in the end, but they're also more fun to write sometimes.

All the best with your planning for novel #3! I also find planning reveals new plot twists and interesting threads within the story, so who knows what gems will come out of it! :)

Taryn Tyler said...

kudos on figuring out exactly what you need to do to make your writing better. that's always a good feeling.

Janet Johnson said...

Good luck! Sounds like a good plan . . . I've been plotting more with the upcoming WIP, too. We'll see if it makes a difference. :)

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Sounds like a plan Lydia. I love Adventures in childrens publishing for all the worksheets they have. I'm not a planner so these help me. :)

Renae said...

Good luck with the planning Lydia...you're my new hero. I used to think I was organized, but I'm not. I try to plan out everything but it never turns out right so I ust have to go with it!

Theresa Milstein said...

Stephen King and Ann Lamott say it's all about character. Develop them, make us care about them, and the rest will fall into place.

Good luck!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Wow. I wish you luck. I've never been good at outlines. I even took an online course focused on that kind of planning for a novel. Just didn't work for me. But I do want to spend more time on other planning tools, like character interviews and journaling. I really want to know how this works for you.

KarenG said...

Outlining! Horror of horrors! I hate them! Although I will do one about half way through revisions, so I can see where I've gone not where I'm going. It's the only way they work for me. But good luck! Your work ethic astounds me (as I have shamefully wasted this entire day).

Nicole MacDonald said...

Hi Lydia!

I love plots, they help you to get the story sharp in your head and you actually feel like your making headway when you can 'mark off' major points. I think you'll enjoy it when you get into it *grin* Good luck!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Ooh, Lydia - great goal! I'm definitely interested to see how being a plotter vs. a pantzer works -I might have to try it myself for the next novel in the pipeline. Great post!!

Alexandra Shostak said...

Most definitely. I used to write with only a vague idea of what was going to happen, but I had to do so many revisions because of plot. I actually didn't start outlining until I was doing a MAJOR rewrite and I realized that I'd need an outline to pull it off. I didn't do specific scenes, and I already knew my characters, but I had plot point by plot point what would happen, and that helped SO much.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm not able to do an outline. I do have the ending scene in mind ... sometimes, but that's about it. :)

WritingNut said...

Good luck Lydia! I know you will sail through this :) I've tried both ways - no outline/with an outline, I'm still not too sure which one works best for me though.

Sandy Shin said...

I'm a fan of writing a light outline before settling down and working out the kinks as they arise. However, #2 is true for me as well, and I do wonderful if I may benefit from heavy outlining.

Good luck with your outline! :)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Lydia--having a plan is so important. I'm not an outliner, but I'm a note taker and a list maker...

Samantha Bennett said...

I've always been anti-outline girl until recently. I think I would save so much time in the long run if I could get into "planning like a fiend." Good luck!

B.E. Sanderson said...

I tried planning and outlining once, but it wasn't for me. It would probably help me keep everything together and cut down on the number of drafts, but I haven't found a way to do it yet without my stories feeling flat. Funny how different writers do it different ways. =o)

Keep hammering away and keep learning.

Elana Johnson said...

Good luck! I don't plan or outline either. I do have plot issues. I rewrite like crazy.

And then my agent says, "Your novel is so well-plotted" and I have to make sure I'm not drinking anything so I don't spew laughter--and Sprite.

So there's a process for each of us. And you'll find yours. Good luck with everything!

Jackee said...

I'm a big outliner, but I still find plot holes in the later drafts.

I did try to write without an outline this last book and I just couldn't do it.

Good luck, Lydia! The best thing is to learn that about yourself and sounds like you've got that covered!

Lisa Gail Green said...

Wow what a great outlook! I want to be as positive and energized as you when tackling my work. Each manuscript is a great learning experience, isn't it?

notesfromnadir said...

Lydia,
If planning will get you there, plan, plan, plan! I think this will work for you as your journey will be mapped out before you go.

But let us know -- somewhere in the middle of it all -- if there are any detours!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Lydia..I think we have telepathy. I am planning the same thing. My first lot of published books were written differently.
As for the new lot, I have started plotting, each part of the series will be written in outline form. I will write chapter by chapter synopsis and then start writing the book.
All the best with your third book!

Medeia Sharif said...

I plan in advance, too. I need an outline. I write better and faster with everything all planned out.

Jo Schaffer said...

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prashant said...

Good luck! I'm betting you'll be pleasantly surprised!
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