4 Lessons on Plotting

 

by Millie Ho

This is the first installment of the I’m Writing A Book series.

I finished plotting my book, so in true Millie fashion I’m summarizing the four lessons I learned during the process. I made a video to better rant about show my thinking process.

Here’s a summary of the four plotting lessons:

 

LESSON #1: GET RID OF NOTES

This was a critical step for me given my history with writing perfectionism. Getting rid of notes, ironically, is all about quality control. I had mountains of notes that added little value to the plotting process and were mentally exhausting to winnow through.

The most important story elements will stay with you, with or without notes. Don’t get suffocated by extraneous post-its you really don’t need. You already know your story, so work off of what you know organically.

 

LESSON #2: SUMMARIZE YOUR STORY ARCS

Keep your eyes on the big picture. What’s the main point you want to make? What’s the overarching theme?

Using Steven Spielberg’s advice, I summarized each of my three story arcs using less than 25 words to capture the essence of what I’m writing.

A concise summary helps you focus on the forest instead of the trees, which is the whole point of plotting.

 

LESSON #3: PLOT CONSISTENTLY!

When I designated plotting to weekends only, I had no energy and secretly resented writing. Plot every day and make time for working on your book if you don’t have time.

By making plotting a daily habit, you will sustain your momentum and decrease the need to constantly reference past work since the story is still fresh in your mind. Hassle-free productivity, I tell you.

 

LESSON #4: DON’T CHANGE YOUR PLOT ONCE IT’S DONE

Trust your past self. Your past self knew what s/he was doing. Resist the temptation to look for improvements, because you will always find them, and editing is best saved for the actual writing itself.

Don’t change the blueprint once it’s done, or else you’ll be stunting your progress and fixated on details that might not even matter in the final draft of your book.

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Millie Ho. Millie is a writer and illustrator from Toronto, Canada. She uses her blog and YouTube channel to document what she’s learned about writing from both the writing process and from books, TV shows, and films.

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