Camp Tip #18 – Roads Not Taken

Plotter or Pantser?

We all started camps with a bit of excitement, a whole bunch of hope, and I think in most cases an idea of what we would be working on during camp. Some of us had pages long outlines detailing huge portions of our books. Others, had the idea and that’s it. I was firmly in the plotted region. I use note cards to summaries my chapters. I have every chapter in the book on its own note card. When I start writing for the day, I read the note card from the previous chapter, as well as the note card for the current and next chapter. However, sometimes things change. I recently started a chapter off differently than I planned and ended up not using my original plan for that chapter. Then in another chapter I used something from a future chapter. When I got to that future chapter, I had no idea what I was going to write. So I again stole something from a future chapter and the original thing that I ended up not using because the chapter had gone in a different direction, suddenly had a new place that it could appear. Basically I shuffle these cards up good, but it worked out. Whether we are pantsers or plotters,  its a good idea to follow paths less traveled.


Following these paths is not always an easy thing to do. After all, some things have to happen in an order, or maybe you’d just prefer them to. But, what this works best for, are subplots, setting up character arcs, and side problems differently can add so many different dimensions to a story or character development. It’s worth trying if you are struggling with getting words. Think of alternative things that can be occurring. Even if you decide not to use what you think up in the part you are at, its nice to have a cache of potential scenes for that day when you’re staring down a blank page.

Little gems. 

One thing that’s really nice about taking unusual turns in you’re story, is that you give your characters a chance to live and reacted with your decisions. This gives you a chance to see them under pressure, or maybe see how they are when left in a room all alone. These little things can have a huge impact if you let your characters be free. Sometimes what you want your characters to do, and what they actually do, is not as similar as you would hope. So when you see a moment where maybe they say something they shouldn’t, and that you didn’t plan for them to say, let them speak and see where it takes you.


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