Posts Tagged ‘plotting’

Plotter? Pantser? Plotster? No problem – Laurie Schnebly’s here with Plotting Via Motivation!

Too much conflict?
Not enough?
Captivating characters?
Plausible action?

Your whole story is powered by motivation, the best engine to drive a compelling plot. If you nail down ANY character’s motivation, the plot will automatically take shape with inherent, believable conflict.

Learn how to build your book, starting with the heart of GMC, in Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s month-long email class that past students have called:

“…an amazing workshop — I cut/pasted 30 pages of great stuff.”
“a terrific eye-opening experience…great tool for planning future projects!”
“I loved the interactive aspect…the process was something this Pantser could appreciate.”
“enlightening…one of the best classes I’ve ever taken.”
“ideas and worksheets were so helpful…take a daunting subject and make it do-able”
“Turning an idea into a plotted story this fast is amazing.”

Plotting Via Motivation is offered on yahoogroups from March 5-30. Registration is $30 at

My own two cents? Best class I’ve ever taken – hands down.



Sometimes a girl can use an extra brain.

It’s not because mine isn’t sharp enough, it is. It’s not because mine isn’t creative enough, it is. It’s because sometimes it’s little wires get twisted and I can’t find a way out of that creativity and sharpness.


I know, hard to follow. But here’s what happens. I work on this stupendous story, and it’s brilliant, if I do say so myself. Then someone, usually a crit partner or a friend (hi Jen!) will come along and say why? Why does she do that?


Because why?

Well, I just don’t know. I’ve thought up this wonderful masterpiece, this book of brilliance, until someone says Why?

Drives me buggy.

Just go with the flow, I want to say. She (the heroine) just does it.

They give me the “look”.


What if…..

And that’s where the brainstorming starts.

When inventing a story line, my brain seizes the story idea and runs along the train tracks, thinking this! and then this! and then this! And that parts a blast, let me tell you.

And then I write….and I write this! and then whoa..this! and what happened there this!

And then, someone says….why?

And my brain train derails.

Because it was up there in party central, zooming along with happy ideas and brilliant thoughts and creative maneuvers…but the darn thing never questions – why?

Possibly there’s a brain training course I can take. Possibly I should put sticky notes all over my computer monitor that say WHY?

Or possibly I can just call upon my critique partners and friends and say hey….if this situation happened to you, what would YOU do?

Brainstormin’. It’s not done with just one brain, it’s picking the use of several other people’s brains to get yours back on the track to writing the perfect story.

Got a brain? Fire it up. I’m coming to get some ideas from you!



Plot or Die

I recently took an online class on plotting. Plotting via Motivation by Laurie Schnebly, as a matter of fact. Brilliant instructor. I’d gift her with my first-born if he wasn’t a dirty mechanic with no social skills. If he didn’t think belching in public was a fine art. If he didn’t cut his own hair with the dog clippers. If …well, you get the hint.

I’ve always been a pantser, and quite thoroughly enjoyed being so. Set me in front of a blank word document and zoom! Off like a Maserati on race day. And then I come to the critical Chapter Four. And come to a screeching halt like a wasp hit by Aqua-Net.

Chapter Four is my downfall. My albatross. The black cat crossing my path. My broken mirror.

How does this happen?

It’s all that darn PLOT’s fault.


My characters are out there having charming witty conversation. They’re dressed well; hair is combed into place, lip gloss on. (the heroine’s not the hero’s) They might be dining, ball room dancing or fighting over the last egg roll. Then I type CHAPTER FOUR.

And they roll over and play dead.

I poke at them with a stick. C’mon, I say. Come out and play.


What if I give you a limo ride and some champagne? I wheedle.

I turn up the speakers on my computer, just in case I’m missing some small sound, some assent. Some clue.


Fine, I say. I’ll just carry on without you. And I bring out the killer of all writing programs. The big guns.

Write or Die.

I crack my knuckles, twist my shoulders a few times like Muhammad Ali before the George Foreman fight, play a quick game of solitaire to get my mind muscles moving.

CHAPTER FOUR. I type it into the program.

‘A limo arrives at the front of their office and both Polly and Peter step inside, her silk dress sliding like silk on the leather seats.’


Backspace, delete, do not save.

The Write or Die screen starts to turn a violent shade of red. I shake it off. Ok, that was just a warm-up. Here we go with the real thing.


All right, we’re cooking with propane now. (I live on a farm in Iowa – it’s propane)

‘Polly slapped Peter across the face with her right hand. Slap! There. Take that, you monster. Take that! And with a huff, Polly stomped away in a huff.’

Stop program. Delete. No, I really don’t want to save it. Back off, buddy.

This situation obviously calls for more stringent measures. Vodka and/or chocolate. Putting the program on hold, I dash to the kitchen. Miniature brownies on a paper plate (we writers don’t have time to wash dishes you know) and a splash of vodka in a plastic glass with diet lemonade. (we writers like to keep our girlish figures)

Chomp. Gulp.

Oh yes, now I feel the power. My figurative cape and tights are in place. Back off Chapter Four, here I come.


‘Peter and Polly sittin’ in a tree
First comes love, then comes marriage,
Then comes ….’



So, my original point being, whether it’s flying into the mist, being a pantser or just writing willy-nilly on the Write or Die program, you still have to have some semblance of a plot.

And that’s where my plotting class and admiration/reverence/regard for Laurie Schnebly comes into play. Laurie walked me through sixteen chapters of a book, three scenes in each chapter. Including the thrice-damned CHAPTER FOUR. I have an outline, and yet I can still pants. I can still fly into the mist. I can for once, overcome my personal writers block.

Look out CHAPTER FOUR. I’m kicking butt and taking names.



Learning to be a plotter

So, I’m trying to learn how to be a plotter.

How’s that going you might ask? (yes, go ahead and ask now)……waiting……c’mon….spit it out.

Well, since you’ve asked, I’ll tell you.

Not worth a damn.

My first ms I wrote entirely by the seat of my pants. Made it up as I went, mostly under the influence of vodka lemonade at 3am, during an online class on how to write a novel in 30 days. I ended up hungover for 30 days, wearing carpal tunnel mitts but yes, in answer to your unasked question, I did finish a manuscript.

It was pretty horrid. The plot line wavered, the arc collapsed, but the sex (the written part anyways) was amazing. Hey, I can get some things right at 3am eh?

Everyone said, don’t fly by the seat of your pants – are you crazy?

Why, yes. I am. I thought we’d established that already.

However, I purchased a plan-your-entire-book-in-advance workbook and set out to fill it out.

Disaster. Not quite of biblical proportions, but pretty close.

I don’t know where my character lives, her street address….I don’t know her mom’s name….I don’t know what’s going to happen, until it pops out of my fingers.

But I tried. I’m still trying. I pulled out my little workbook every other day or so….delete everything I wrote before, and rewrite it all in the way it occurred to me the night before.

I’m pretty sure that’s cheating.

So, I’m kicking myself in the rear, and trying to do it right this time. If it works as advertised, I’m supposed to be able to fill in the worksheet, and then just write. The story will flow, the dialog will be witty, the plot will happen just as predicted.


I’m currently looking for an online writing class for pantsers who want to be/should be plotters but lie, cheat and steal to get out of it.

Sounds like a winner eh?


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