The Vacation Route to Completing a Novel
by Terry W. Ervin II
Just about every writer, and a good number of readers, know one way to categorize writers is Pantsters vs. Plotters. A ‘pantster’ just sits down and writes their novel, not knowing what happens next, until they reach the end of the story. A ‘plotter’ outlines or plans their book and uses that as a guide while writing the novel, from beginning to the end of the story. Of course, the division isn’t as black and white as that. For example, the degree to which an author plans or outlines their novels varies greatly.
|After Relic Tech comes this!|
What I am going to share is what works for me, and has worked for a number of writers that have struggled in the past…either ‘pantstering’ and writing themselves into a corner, or leaving a jumbled, rambling storyline with plot holes and tangents galore—something unmanageable to work with. Or the writers that can’t get beyond the outlining stage. And, if the outlining authors do, they can’t transition that outline into a compelling story.
|Places to visit|
Just as with the vacation road trip, I plan out my novel, from the starting point to the final destination—how it will end. I identify major plot points or events along the way (major places to stop and visit). While I have an idea how long it will take to write certain scenes containing the various plot events, sometimes it takes more words (stay there longer). Sometimes I write something unanticipated (stop at an unanticipated destination along the way) and sometimes I eliminate something from the plot (bypassing a planned stop along the way).
The thing is, an outline isn’t written in stone, just as vacation plans shouldn’t be. The flexibility allows the story to grow and become more interesting along the way. Me? I plan in a spiral notebook, taking up about fifteen pages. I jot down relevant events, bits of interesting dialogue or places or characters to be introduced, things like that. With two novels, I transferred the handwritten version to a Word document. This makes it easier to add or delete information, as opposed to adding new ideas in a different color pen or crossing things out. See, that outline is dynamic, and as ideas strike me over the course of writing, I have an organized place to jot (or type) them as they come to me.
|You are here|
So, if you’re a writer that struggles to start, or efficiently finish, a novel, whether you’re a pantster or a plotter, consider giving my method a try. Modify it to your needs and writing style (some authors use index cards or spread sheets). If you’re an avid reader who thinks you might have a good novel inside of you…consider starting out with this method to organize that novel (or novella or short story) so that it can be written.
Terry W. Ervin II is an English and science teacher who enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction. His First Civilization’s Legacy Series (fantasy) includes Flank Hawk, Blood Sword, and Soul Forge.
The Crax War Chronicles, his science fiction series, includes Relic Tech and Relic Hunted (his most recent release from Gryphonwood Press).
In addition to writing novels, Terry’s short stories have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, magazines and ezines. Genre Shotgun is a collection containing all of his previously published short stories.
To contact Terry or learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at www.ervin-author.com and his blog, Up Around the Corner at uparoundthecorner.blogspot.com
Check here for all of Terry's books!