Monday, August 6, 2018

Vlog Episode 2 - THE PROCESS (Part 1): PLOTTING

In this video, I cover the first three steps of the arduous writing and self-publishing process.

Step 1. Plotter or Pantser?
Step 2. Brainstorm
Step 3. Outline
     - Working Title
     - Chapter Divisions
     - Prologue and/or Epilogue?

Transcription of Episode 2:

This is the first installment of a series I'm doing that will break down the writing and publishing process for aspiring authors, starting with your initial idea and going step by step all the way to the book release. When I wrote and published Death and the Maiden, I skipped over or botched most of these steps, and this ultimately impaired the quality and promotion of my first novel. Many of these steps can apply to traditionally published authors, but I should specify that this process is tailored to self-published authors in particular, and some steps won't fit the traditional publishing route. Now let's get to it. So you have a fantastic idea for a book. Now what?

Step 1. Plotter or Pantser?

Well, the first step is to decide if you're a plotter or a pantser. Plotters formulate an outline of how they want their story to progress, whereas pantsers just jump right in and, as their name suggests, write from [or fly by] the seat of their pants, letting the story just come to them as they go. I'm a plotter myself. I have to know where I'm going, and so I plan the whole story out right from the start. There are a lot of benefits to plotting things out, such as maintaining your book's continuity or preventing you from trailing off on pointless tangents. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself which route works best for you. Now if you've decided that you're a plotter like me, let's move on to . . .

Step 2. Brainstorm

The second step in the process is to brainstorm ideas to develop your original concept. These details can include ideas for scenes, main characters, antagonists, setting—basically whatever randomly pops into your noggin. You can write these ideas on cards, type them out in a list, or use whatever method you feel comfortable with, provided you have a way to organize these ideas for later. Once you have a hefty amount of ideas, you can move on to the next step.

Step 3. Outline

Step three is to sift through all these ideas you've compiled and arrange them into a neat chronological outline. The best thing about an outline is that it's very easy to change. If you've already written half your book and realize you need to change something, you'll probably have to go back and revise a sizeable chunk of your manuscript. But if you hash out those changes on the outline beforehand, you'll save yourself a lot of time and frustration later on. This is a good juncture to give your project a working title. It doesn't have to be the final title for your novel. Your working title can be as simple as First Novel, Manuscript #1, or even a joke title. It really doesn't matter at this point, and we'll address the final title for your book in a later episode. Anyway, as you're arranging your outline, you'll probably find gaps in your story that need to be filled. If you have to, take some time and do another round of brainstorming to fill in those gaps. Try and keep the number of purposeless scenes to a minimum. Many writers say that every single scene should advance the plot. I personally don't think that every scene has to drive the plot forward, but most scenes should. As you develop your outline, you may want to decide how you're going to break up your chapters. Your chapters don't all have to be the exact same length, but there should be some consistency on how the book is divided up. I personally find it easier to decide on where to put my chapter breaks as I write. Another thing to think about is whether or not you want to include a prologue or epilogue. I don't use them myself, because some readers have developed a habit of skipping over them. To be fair to these readers, this is because a lot of inexperienced writers use prologues as info dumps, which are very dull to read. If you're really interested in using them, you should really look for advice from authors who do employ prologues and epilogues.

And that's how you plot out your novel. The next installment in my writing and self-publishing process series will be on character profiles and story bibles. I'll be returning to this series on and off because there are other topics I'd like to cover that don't have to deal with the writing and publishing process. So for the next episode, I want to cover a literary trope that I sort of have a love-hate relationship with. So thanks for stopping by. Make sure to Like this video, Subscribe, and click the Bell icon to be notified when I upload my next video. See you next time.

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