Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pen Pal from Texas (Plotter vs Panster)

Greetings from the Hermit-Writer

I have a middle-grade pen pal. Yep. This curmudgeon is friends with a little person. It isn't her fault. She
wants to be a writer, and a cousin connected us.

The other day she asked how I plan my novels. I thought I'd blog what I sent her. This may be one of my more interesting blogs...chortle

Hi [redacted]

Every writer has a different method. It's good that you are asking, to give you ideas for finding a process that works for you.

My first novel was written via the "panster" the seat of my pants. That novel wandered, and wandered.

To remain focused on my next novel, I wrote a six page outline. However as I proceeded to write, I enjoyed the way my characters took the story in a different direction by the twelfth chapter, and most of the outline went unused.

Since, I have been starting with a list of maybe a dozen, what I call plot-points, the general direction of the novel, through Act I. (The theory is, novels are built of three Acts. Act I...the beginning. Act II...the middle. Act III...the end. Ingenious, huh? *smile*

My "plot-points" aren't always events. They may simply be themes. As an example with Seeker 2...

· Amelia Logan is jealous of Denise Abana
· Augi is jealous of Roger who shows an interest in Denise
· Roger is jealous of Michael, who Denise shows an interest in
· ---All the jealousy shakes up the cohesion of the group

These are my actual, leading plot points for the novel. I sat down to write the action to match the premise. This was easy for me, since this was a sequel, and I knew all the characters well (their personalities were in my head), except for the new character, Denise.

You may want to try using physical events for your plot points. My plot points usually make up a single chapter, but can extend over several, if it takes multiple events to bring out the theme of the plot point.

I recommend wrapping every chapter around a single, important event, or character development (theme). Consider this: every chapter, like the overall novel, has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The end may simply be a teaser for the action's resolution in the next chapter.

I hope this helps. I tried to answer your question briefly, not to inundate you. So feel free to come back to me with any specific questions you may have.

Have a great week

-R. Mac Wheeler


  1. heel gedurft maar die komt er wel.

  2. I always wondered about a writer's methods. So nice of you to help your young pen pal. :)

  3. When your cousin becomes famous I hope she dedicate first book to you

  4. That was so great of you to explain to her your method in detail. Many writers don't do that. Great post and all the best for 2014. I hope the year will be amazing for you.

  5. That young lady will treasure that correspondence, and it may provide just the inspiration and knowledge that she needs to move forward with her writing. Good for you for taking the time.

  6. Fist, I KNEW you were a softie. I suspected it all along.

    Second, I always like to read what methods and structure work for other writers. It's good.

  7. It is so nice of you to help your pen pal. I love to read but I was not gifted with writing. I am envious of those that have a way with words. Have a happy day and week ahead!