Monday, February 11, 2013


Writers often divide themselves into either the camp of PLOTTERS who plan their work in progress (WIP) meticulously or PANTSTERS who write “by the seat of their pants,” allowing their WIP to develop and evolve as it is written. When you pin writers down, though, most admit to falling somewhere along a continuum between anal plotter and loosey-goosey pantster.

I, however, am an anal plotter. If I don’t know what’s going to happen from beginning to end with the research complete, I don’t feel good about sitting down to write. Perhaps it’s my background in technical and grant writing, but there it is.

Why today’s rant? It lies with my last story, The Aegis. The Aegis is a vampire vs Light Warriors paranormal novella that will be released by Champagne Book Group in April. (Check out Petra’s perfect cover) Nikki Andrews, my editor extraordinaire, noted a problem with the chronology. I checked the story meticulously and fixed everything. As it turned out, on my review of the ARC I discovered that I’d missed one. I pray that Mistress Ellen, our publisher, will accept the very minor three-word fix as I apologize abjectly while covered in ashes with sackcloth rent.

Usually, my Scene Tracker - a tool in my plotter's box - keeps me straight. The Scene Tracker is a Word table that includes for each chapter and scene: spaces for the date the scene occurs, the location of the scene, POV character, and a larger space for (1) the action that occurs during the scene and (2) facts from the research to include in the scene. It looks kind of like this:

Sc #

If I had paid closer attention to my Scene Tracker for The Aegis, I would have picked up the problem before it was submitted. Until next month,  Rita Bay


Big Mike said...

Me too, me too. I plot to infinity and beyond. What drives authors nuts is when they collaborate with someone from the opposite slant, and I've done it three times. I'm a sucker for pain.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

Helen Henderson said...

Glad to meet someone else who admits to being a plotter. Each of my novels developed from a storyboard similar to your scene tracker. I hate the word 'outline' some apply to plotters, as it brings back nightmares of roman numerals, capital and subletters.

When I start my storyboard is the roadmap, until the characters take over. Then midway they redraw it. We end up at the same place, just take a few different curves. Off to see where they are taking me in Hatchling's Curse.


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

I was taught by writer Dawn Reno to use a mountain map with the arc just past the middle. I can put the plot points on that and write out of order if I get an inspiration that's off the direct path.

Rita Bay said...

Maybe a lot more people plot than they realize or admit. It might not be on paper but it's plotting nevertheless. A famous author of paranormal stories holds the whole story in her head and sits down and writes her best-selling novels in a matter of weeks. Rita