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Plodding vs. Plotting

I’m making good headway on my latest work-in-progress.  I finished Chapter 12 yesterday, so my New Year’s resolution may hold.  (Fingers crossed.)  The problem was that after I typed the words “Chapter 13,” I came to a screeching halt.  I needed to plot.

Some writers can sit down at their computer and just go, not caring that they don’t know where they’re heading.  In some ways, I admire that.  It’s daring, it’s free, and it’s open to possibilities.  It’s also not me.  Some writing instructors or other helpful souls will tell you that when you hit a writer’s block, you should just sit down and write whatever comes to mind.  They believe that will help break through the resistance.  I’ve tried that, and it’s a complete waste of my time.  I can’t seem to be creative and orderly at the same time.  The solution for me is usually to sit down and map out where the story needs to go.  That’s the creative part.  Once I have that, it’s a matter of execution.

In my current story, it wasn’t that I was at a complete loss for direction, it was that I had several specific points I needed to hit and a certain number of pages to get there.  So I spent yesterday mapping how to get from Point A to Point B to Point C to, eventually, The End.  Everything needs to come together by that final page.  The TV show, Seinfeld, had some great examples of plotting.  George, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer would all be obsessing about their individual problems until the end of the show where everything would come together for a hilarious conclusion.  Remember Kramer’s meat slicer being used to cut food thin enough to slide under the door to feed Elaine’s cat?  Or Kramer hitting the golf ball into the ocean and “marine biologist” George having to save the whale?  Genious!

Sometimes you just need to find your own way of doing things.  Don’t block out what others are advising, but pick out the information that works best for you.  Maybe you can go to the grocery store, walk through the aisles, and buy everything you need.  Me?  I need a shopping list.  Maybe you can accomplish everything you wanted to do in a day without reminders.  Me?  I need my “to do” list.

So how about you?  Are you a free spirit or a list maker like me?  Do you plan ahead or go free wheeling?

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