Sunday, March 2, 2014
A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers, and Everyone in Between
The philosopher Groucho Marx once said, "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."
True that, but inside of your WIP, in the very center, dwells not the darkness but the light.
I've been studying, thinking about, practicing and (eventually) teaching the craft of fiction since that day in 1988 when I decided to become a writer. I love popping the hood, taking apart the engine, looking at all the moving parts. I love hanging with other writers and talking about the craft.
My bookshelves are stuffed with craft books. I have five big binders of old Writer's Digest magazines, underlined and indexed. There's not an approach on "how to write" that I haven't come across at one time or another.
I've written novels using all three main systems: plotting (with a comprehensive outline), pantsing (just start and go!), and tweening (a mix of each).
I've written by knowing the beginning (and that's all), and by starting at the end (and working backward). Usually, it's been a combination.
Every writer has a favorite approach, of course. And you'll hear passionate arguments for them. No sooner has someone extolled the value of outlines than a rebellious soul starts beating the drum for knowing nothing at all!
Well, I'm pleased to tell you, people of Earth, that I come in peace. In fact, I believe I have come up with a unique method of approach that will please all sides of the great debate.
That method is to write your novel from the middle.
That's what I said. Stay with me.
Let me go back to a post I did some time ago. I discovered that the true "midpoint" of a great novel or film is not a scene, but a moment within a scene. I call it the "mirror moment." So powerful did this idea seem that I began to explore it as the foundation for all my full-length fiction. I then developed a method to get the most out of it. Not only that, I found that this approach is one that can be used by plotters, pantsers and 'tweeners. It can be used at the very start, or at any step along the way.
You can use it as the basis of an outline, or you can pants your way along for ten thousand words and then let it guide you to an organic and powerful plot.
I started teaching this in my workshops, with wonderful results. Which is why I had to write a book about it.
Within this book I explain how to take the mirror moment and apply what I call The Golden Triangle, which looks like this:
The Golden Triangle will help any author find the unique and dynamic heart of their novel. In fact, just thinking about The Golden Triangle will mine riches hidden in your narrative. It will reveal, like the sun shining through the clouds, the real story you're trying to tell––even if you don't realize it.
The book can be found here:
My philosophy of study for 25 years has been that any writing book is worth it if I can find even one thing that helps me. That's why I have so many books on the subject, and continue to read Writer's Digest every month.
And that's my pledge regarding this book. You will find something that helps you.
We've had books on outlining and books on writing without a net.
We've had books on knowing your beginning, and books on knowing your ending.
But this is the first one that counsels: Write your novel from the middle!
Thank you for this infomercial time, Zoners, and for your very gracious support.
So...do you consider yourself a plotter, a pantser, or a tweener? What particular challenges have you found with your approach?