Monday, March 21, 2016

Plotting," Pansting", and the Act of Discovery

Congratulations to Linda Phillips who won WONDER and Mary Jane Nirdlinger  who won ORCHARDS. Thanks to all of you for leaving comments here and in Talking Story. More great giveaways coming up!

In the ongoing conversation about plotter vs. panster I've discovered that I work somewhere in between these two camps. On the one hand, I can't work without an outline next to my computer.

My current 33 page
chapter-by-chapter outline

Perhaps this is because Half-Truths is my first novel. Or maybe it's because it's from 2 POVs and I needed to create character arcs for each girl, plus an arc for their friendship. How in the world could I do that without a road map?

My outlining process two years ago.
(I guess I've come a long way since then...)

Given the state of my brain, I am happiest when I can open Scrivener, consult my outline, and see where I'm supposed to go.
But... in the last few weeks I've discovered the joy of not knowing everything ahead of time. I've been surprised by the things my characters do, say, feel, and remember within the confines of each chapter.

A few months ago I realized that after my daily writing time, I enjoyed reviewing in my mind what I had discovered that day. I started posting these discoveries on Facebook and thought I'd share several of them here--just in case you missed them. 

In no particular order: 
  • Kate's grandmother bought her this tweed suit and hung it in her wardrobe. Kate hates the suit but wears it in order to wheedle something out of her grandmother. (Author's note: I just figured out she was wearing this in the scene I wrote today while I was composing this post!)
  • Lillie represents the New South where women aren't necessarily maids and servants to whites. But as much as her grandmother, Big Momma, supports Lillie's dreams of making something of herself, she is still grounded in the Old South where blacks serve whites and white is right. 
  • "This quilt is soft with washing and at night sometimes I still curl up and hug it to my chest." Kate
  • Kate's first "half-truth" covers up one of Lillie's secrets.
  • Lillie's realization that Kate lives in a family divided by the Civil War.
  • Kate's realization that her father (an engineer in the US Army in Korea) is making money in a job involving killing people. She associates that with Lillie's father, an undertaker, making money off people dying.
  • From Lillie's POV: "The library is quiet. The only sounds are Mr. Dinsmore turning the pages of his paper and tapping his pipe occasionally into the ashtray and Miss Anna Katherine scribbling in her notebook. Every so often she pauses with the pencil by her mouth, looks over at me, smiles, and starts writing again. We’re certainly nowhere near being friends like Big Momma’s frets about. But there’s a thread between us that I think we both feel. Maybe it’s that we both want Eileen to get better. Or, maybe it’s just because we’re both teenage girls. Either way, when I imagine working here without Miss Anna Katherine being around the place, it wouldn’t be the same.
  • When Kate doodles she draws open and closed eyes. 
  • Kate loved hearing The Ugly Duckling read to her and Granddaddy has some half-truths of his own.
"The Ugly Duckling"
The original uploader was LaSylphide at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,

This is my FIFTH full draft of Half-Truths and I'm still finding out new things. And you know what? This act of discovery is one of the most fun and rewarding parts of writing. 

At least...until I get a publishing contract! 

For more of my WIP discoveries, friend me at Carol Federlin Baldwin on Facebook. Meanwhile, are you a plotter or panster? Have you found any recent discoveries in your WIP? Please share them in the Comments section. 

Did you ever stop to consider if you are a plotter or panster in "real" life? In this recent blog post by Becky Levine she considers some of the surprises she's discovered in her life as a writer. 


Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Thanks for giving us an insight as to your thoughts and your writing with an outline and without an outline and the intriguing surprises you've found while writing your novel.

I'm glad that I won a copy of BECAUSE OF MR. TERUPT from this blog and the newsletter that you and Joyce Hostetter create together!

Celebrate you and your gift of writing.
Never Give Up

Carol Baldwin said...

You're quite welcome, Joan. I bet it will be a book you'll share with your grandkids!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

My my! So many discoveries! Eileen gets hurt? I'm intrigued? I like that scene in the library.

Plotter or panster? I always have some idea where the story is going but I can't do detailed plotting. There would just be no life in it for me if I tried.

Carol Baldwin said...

Ah, Joyce! you will just have to read on, won't you?? I'm moving over to your long as I have my map by my side!

Clara Gillow Clark said...

Love hearing about your process and all those juicy tidbits of your w-i-p and how it's evolved. What works best for me is walking. Something about the rhythm of walking is perfect for dreaming story.

Martina Boone said...

Thanks for sharing this! Great insights, and as always, your snippets make me so eager to read your book!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Martina. One of these days...Half-Truths will be ready for public consumption!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Clara. Driving does that for me too!

sheri levy said...

I love hearing how your book is evolving. Before I write, I always have an idea on where my story will end, and very basic plot ideas as the story moves forward, but I'm more a panster than a planner. It is the fun of new ideas jumping onto the page!
I'm glad you're having so much fun writing. That's why it is addicting! I can't wait to read it!!
Sheri Levy

Carol Baldwin said...

Yep, Sheri. Fun, addictive work. Best way to describe writing!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
You're right. I'll share the book with my grandkids.They love books.
Never Give Up

Carol Baldwin said...

Just like their grandmother!

Joan Y. Edwards said...

Dear Carol,
Amen to that!


Young Authors Program said...

I am inspired by your determination, Carol. Can't wait for the day I hold Half-Truths in my hand. :)

Carol Baldwin said...

thank you, Dorothy. I'm getting there... closer than I was a year ago, but not there yet! Thanks for believing in Half-Truths!

Linda A. said...

I used to say I was a plotter, but I'm not sure that's totally true any more. I spend a great deal of time mulling things over and over in my head and then write down general ideas as they come. If I had planned the story out in advance, I would have missed some of the creative ideas that come along later. I believe this planning in my head saves me many revisions on paper. Deciding when to begin to write the first draft is my new challenge.

I have won so many nice books here that I would like to pass on having my name included in the drawing. I will post this to Facebook, just the same.

Thanks for a great review. A wonderful book!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda. Perhaps as we mature as writers we feel freer to be more creative!

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