Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
I searched my previous Writer’s Journal posts to see if I had written about this topic, but could not find where I had, so I decided to write about it this week.
I have, in the past, been what’s referred to as a pantser. I took the germ of an idea and went with it. I had no plan, no outline, not even notes to guide me. I flew by the seat of my pants. I actually prefer to write this way, and I was pretty good at it.
Then I went full time and discovered that to write a consistent and significant amount every day, I need to know where I am going with the story. I need to have a target to aim for. I need a plot laid out in advance.
This does not translate, of course, into me suddenly becoming a plotter. I hate outlines, and though I’m perfectly capable of writing them for nonfiction, I have no understanding of them when it comes to fiction. Crazy, I know, but true.
What I do cannot really be described as an outline. I loosely follow what is known as a three-act structure. I have a beginning point. An introduction, if you will. Then I have four obstacles that I lay out to trip Darcy and Elizabeth up. At the end, I have a wrap-up, which means a wedding for them or whatever that shows their happily ever after.
To keep myself on target with the pacing, I take the desired word count and subtract 5,000. This is the number of words I have for my HEA/wedding/ending. Hugs and kisses and I love you’s. Then, I take the remaining word count and divide by four. The quotient (answer) is the number of words, roughly, that each “section” should contain.
For example, if I want to write a 60,000-word book, I subtract 5,000 for my ending. That’s a chapter or two. Then, I take the remaining 55,000 and divide it by four. My answer (quotient) is 13,750. So, the introduction through the end of the first obstacle (where it’s overcome) should be about 13,750 words long. Then, the time between the resolution of the first obstacle and the resolution of the second should be the same length. So, when I get to 27,500 words, I will be about halfway through the book. Then, obstacle three happens and is resolved. Then, there is one more obstacle to overcome, and it should be something that seems insurmountable. “All hope is lost” is how Rose and Leenie explained it to me. By the time that is resolved, we have come to 55,000 words and all we should have left is the hugs and kisses and HEA wrap up.
This all sounds easy on paper, all written out like this. But, it’s not. Not at all. I get all tangled up in it every single time I go to plan out a new book. I don’t want my friends to have to spoon-feed me plot points every time, so I need to get this in my head, but it’s a painful process.
At this point with the new story, I have four things that I feel could trip Darcy and Lizzy up on their way to their HEA. I’m not sure it’s correct, but it’s possible that as I write, things will become clearer. I’m going to try, anyway.
And, let me say, God bless Leenie and Rose. They have the patience of saints with me and my thickheadedness! <3
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3