The word “plot,” for anyone who hasn’t noticed, is a four-letter word. That’s more or less how I feel about it. Writers who are more analytical thrive as they work out the plot before writing their books.
But I am an intuitive writer. I create from my gut. I write to discover what will happen next just as my readers read to discover what will happen next. I don’t know what will occur in chapter ten until I have written chapter nine.
I keep what is called a “rolling plot” notebook. When needed, I journal before beginning to write for that day, determining, based on what I wrote the previous day, what needs to be accomplished next. Sometimes, of course, I write down what needs to happen in the future. I use a Circa notebook for the rolling plot of each book. Some pages are flagged and highlighted as I go along, knowing I will have to backtrack to some of my comments and thoughts.
I love getting the ideas flowing. Any idea. All ideas. Never saying first, “No, that won’t work,” but saying, “Why would that work?” or “How could that work?” Once a year, I get together with other Christian authors to brainstorm books. I get as much out of brainstorming books that my brainstorming buddies plan to write as I do out of brainstorming my own. I get inspired and excited about writing because of the shared enthusiasm.
Sad to say, I’ve had to brainstorm many projects on my own as I can’t always fly off to meet with other writers. Good thing it’s possible to brainstorm in the privacy of my own office when necessary. Not nearly as much fun but just as (almost as?) effective.
Mind mapping software can be helpful when it’s just me and my iMac as brainstorming partners. I used Inspiration 9 for a number of books, but what I use now is Scapple. It’s made by the same folks who created the best writing software around—Scrivener. I don’t open Scapple very often and am far from an expert in its use, but it’s great to have when I need to just throw ideas out to see what sticks.
If you’re a writer, what are your favorite brainstorming tools?
If you’re a reader, what is your favorite plot of all time?
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