Plot Techniques: The Story Telling Method

Who here’s a plotter?

Lucky you.  I’ve been a pantser for years.  In fact, I was so vehemently against plotting in high school that I once wrote 10,000 words in one day without any clue where that story was supposed to wind up.

Guess what happened?

That’s right.  I threw it away.  (Figuratively, of course–I never actually delete anything I write, and neither should you.)

You never know when you want to revisit high school. ❤

Anyway, turns out that pantsing, while fun, isn’t beneficial in the long-term, mostly because the first draft of anything pantsed sucks.  So that means rewriting, except still without an outline–because pantser–which results in another rewrite.

And another.

Aaaand another.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.  Obviously, something’s gotta change.

So, I’ve been exploring various plot-portunnities.  (Get it?  Plot opportunities?  Haha.  I’m so creative. >.> )  In James Patterson’s MasterClass, he demonstrated a story-telling version of plotting.  And since I was super vague about it in my last post, I’m going to elaborate.

(Mostly as a way to really convince you guys NOT to buy that class, because lookie, I’m giving you the info for free.)

His way wasn’t ingenious.  It isn’t anything revolutionary, like the Snowflake Method, or even research-based, like Better Novel Project’s Master Outline.  It was just… writing.

Which I think is why I liked it.

As a pantser, plotting always felt too rigid for me.  Patterson’s method involved writing bullet points about events and emotions.  And outlining in this manner felt more like telling an abbreviated story than planning out every single detail, which is, in my non-expert opinion, super booooring.

But short stories are fun.  I finished this outline in about two days.

Overload outline


As you can see, it’s color coded, because why not?  And single spaced, and came out to almost 4,000 words.

outline word count

That’s not too shabby for someone who’s never plotted in earnest before.  But it was easy, because I got to write scenes like this:

operation overload outline 2

You can see how this was exciting to me.  (No, nice government man, I definitely wasn’t planning on taking over the world.  Honest.)  There isn’t a lot of information here, but it’s enough to keep me on the right path, while still allowing me to improvise the minute-by-minute action.  And that’s how I keep my pantser self invested in this story.

This obviously isn’t for everyone, especially the hardcore plotters. For you guys, I recommend checking out Rachel Aaron / Bach, who wrote an amazing book titled “2k to 10k” all about how she manages to write 10,000 words a day.

Of course, she’s probably the most elaborate plotter I’ve ever seen, and her methods don’t really fall in my creative mindset.  (Still, buy the book, because it’s only 99 cents and is WELL worth your time.)

But I keep thinking that maybe I could be a plotter one day, with enough practice.  Maybe I could manage to write 10,000 words and not have to discard it later.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Still, that’s not me right now.  But I do think JP’s plotting method is a nice middle ground for those of us who want the freedom of pantsing, without the resulting rewrites.

Maybe it’ll work for you too? 🙂

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a little of both?  Let me know!!



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