Last week’s unusually short blog post was entitled Closed for Maintenance: Me. Between my busy freelance schedule and other commitments, I didn’t have time for myself, much less for the blog (which is, after all, an unpaid avocation).

Today’s post is about getting back on track with a work-in-progress, also known as a WIP. Now, this assumes one’s WIP has gotten off track, and I can indeed confirm I’ve been known to suffer from this common writer’s problem.

 

Planning, Plotting, or…?

Unlike my freelance projects, which have to be rigorously scheduled and completed on deadline, my novels are a free-for-all. I’ve read much about the difference between a “plotter” and a so-called “pantser,” and determined that I am a hybrida plantser, if you will.

Naturally , the concept of a plotter is easy to understand. One carefully plots out an entire book in advance, then follows the plan to the letter.

I’m guessing, of course. I’ve never tried that, and I know I’d feel too hemmed in by a rigid plot or plan.

Conversely, I’ve also never tried to fly by the seat of my pants writing an entire novel. That seems like it would be nuts!

 

So What The Heck Is a Plantser?

While I couldn’t maintain my enthusiasm about a project enough to see it through if I planned to the last detail, I also have to plan something at some point. That’s where my hybrid plantser tag comes into play.

Here’s how my process works: I start out doing whatever it is I do: first draft for 20, 30, even 50 pages. As I’m working through it, I go back and edit…and edit…and edit some more.

I’m well aware not every writer does this. I don’t want to have a debate in the comments section. Suffice to say, I’m not recommending my process, merely saying it works for me.

At some point, I recognize I’ve run out of gas. In other words, I’m no longer able to function as a pantser, because the story will need a more definite shape.

 

Six Possible Plot Types

According to computer programming, there are only six basic plots

  1. Rags to riches (an arc following a rise in happiness)
  2. Tragedy or riches to rags (an arc following a fall in happiness)
  3. Man in a hole (fall-rise)
  4. Icarus (rise-fall)
  5. Cinderella (rise-fall-rise)
  6. Oedipus (fall-rise-fall)

I can live with it if there are others, but I must admit I really don’t care. Plot is always, always, always secondary to character in my novels. The mechanics don’t trouble me.

Once I reach that point of no return, I have to at least sketch out a rough outline of what scenes I expect will need to happen, and a general, or possibly even specific idea of how the novel will end.

The upside to this method? By the time I start plotting, I’ve already got a good start on the characters, story, and even parts of a draft that will require little to no revision.

The downsides are probably obvious, but I’ll mention them anyway. I’ve almost never known where a story is going until it’s well underway; planning based on existing text can be challenging; and, while exciting, it can also be frustrating.

Still, it works, and believe me, I’ve tried other ways. My current WIP got some TLC this past weekend. I added some dialogue, revised some narrative, and expanded my notes. I’ve even written the ending in advance, a rarity for me.

What about you? How’s your WIP going, if you have one? I’d love to hear other writers’ experiences in the comments.

sanity

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #10: Maintaining Some Semblance of Sanity

I’m going off the rails on a crazy train. —Ozzy Osbourne, "Crazy Train"   Last October, I posted an article on pandemic fatigue, about how 2020 had been exhausting. Ha ha ha! The pandemic was only seven or eight months old by then! Who’da thunk it? I must be some...
repetition

Insanity: Writing the Same Thing Over and Over?

Sometimes I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of those steps. I’ve been really lucky: I’ve had the good fortune to publish and sell four of my novels, and I run a freelance writing and editing business as well. I have great clients who love what I do and send me...
book launch

Ready to Launch Into 2019?

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve shown an obsessive side lately – lots of content about my upcoming book launch. I’m releasing my fourth novel, Whizzers, in 2019. That means I’m putting a lot of emphasis on building my marketing plan well in...
radio shows

Radio, Radio

Normally, when I've done radio shows, it's been related to promotion of a novel, or of my novels in general. This week, it's something completely different. (If you got the Monty Python reference, kudos. If not, Google them after you read this post. Then thank me in...
history

Nostalgia, Conspiracies, and A Vanishing World

Recently, I’ve been visiting the minutiae of history a little more than usual. Some of my readers may be aware that I’m a a big music fan, and have collected music in various formats over most of my life. While it’s often digital these days, I've also been known to...
team

Come Join My Book Launch Team!

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about book launches where I introduced the subtle difference between a launch team and a street team. Simply stated, there’s usually plenty of overlap, but a launch team may include people not part of your street team – vendors, people...

Short Story Contest Part II

Last week, I launched a short story contest here on my blog as part of a major national promotion. To recap: this is not a call for submissions; I'm serializing a short story in anticipation of my upcoming release of a short collection. Here's how it works: read it...
kicking that can

Kicking That Can Down the Road

When I started writing my upcoming novel, I didn't have an agenda or even a plan. The story of Whizzers came about very organically, though it has roots in my own life from many years ago. To understand how I evolved as a writer, you almost have to understand how I...
department

Yes, I’m The Head of My Company’s Marketing Department

A few months ago, I wrote a post called What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. The idea was to provide six bullet points, one for each year I’ve run my publishing company. Ultimately, I realized that each of those six points could use some...

Books As Extended Business Cards

As I mentioned on here a couple weeks back, my freelance copywriting gigs feed my addiction to writing fiction, not vice-versa. However, my copywriting business is just part of a larger vision for Sahno Publishing, and that's a publishing company that provides...