Retro-plotting – maybe I’m not a pantser after all 

When I began my current novel I jumped straight in with a vague idea. I started writing and began a novel in the ‘literary’ genre with a older femal protagonist. After writing ten chapters it became fantasy fiction and then a bit later my heroine became a teenager! Now while this is fine for a Tarantino film, it’s not ideal for a novel, possibly a little too experimental for most readers.

Now 82,000 words in and I’m starting to get it sorted, who did what, when, and I can now begin to plot out how it looks, what the events are and who the characters are. It seems like a good way to work for the position I’m in and for the editing and revising after the first draft, but it is doing it all backwards, ‘retro plotting’.

I would previously have described myself as more of a pantser than a plotter, but I’m starting to wonder. It isn’t just my love of stationery and being able to fill notepads with ideas and events, or being able to get my beloved yellow paper and fountain pen out and write epic lists. I think it actually makes life easier in the long run, and hugely reduces the chances of getting lost.  Those people who extol it’s virtues might have a point after all.

So, after the current first draft of the retro plotted novel is put into hibernation for a bit, hopefully in time for NaNoWriMo, I will have a plan in place for my next novel, which I will begin as part of NaNoWriMo and complete by the end of the year. I’ve bought a kindle version of ‘Why writers abandon books and how you can draft, fix and finish with confidence‘, in the Nail your Novel series by Roz Morris, which should help.  The Working title for the new novel is ‘Cobweb, Claire and the Changling‘.

The photo below is evidence of lots of sheets of lists for retro plotting from yesterday afternoon.

Today’s job is adding a synopsis to each chapter in Scrivener so that I know what I’ve already written. I’ll put a pic of that up when it’s done.

Papers and books on a table

Inspired at Ryedale Book Festival today

I was really pleased to get to Ryedale Book Festival this morning. Although we weren’t able to get to any of the readings we had decided that it would be useful and interesting to go to the Independent Authors marketplace.  Set in the lovely restored Old Town Hall in Malton, there were a range of Indie Writers there. Waterstones from nearby York were also there with a mini bookshop which briefly distracted me from the job in hand.

What was that job, well it was to see what local authors are out there and to chat to authors about the business of being an author. We met some really nice people, both authors and publishers, but the thing that struck me most was the range of what I would view as professionalism out there.

There were authors with stands which essentially were books plonked on tables in piles. Bits of paper stuck out was supposed to highlight the genre of certain books. Others were much more organised with printed information to take away even if you didn’t buy the book.

My day job is in Marketing and I have to say there were some there who got it right and others who really didn’t.

It was also insightful to see a range of indie authors and local publishers together just to see the difference in covers. I’m afraid to say that those that weren’t professionally designed stuck out and jarred.

I learnt a lot and even bought a book from Antony Wootton, aimed at 9-10 year old kids, but when did I ever let that stop me? The fact that the book title mentioned dragon might have been an influencing factor.

There was another book for sale with a publisher that I might have bought, but I didn’t have enough cash, so when I got home I looked it up on Amazon and could only find a paperback version for sale. I was hugely surprised that there are authors out there who would choose to miss out on this easy opportunity to widen your market thousands fold, let alone the other digital platforms.

Image of books and fliers from Ryedale Book Festival

Ryedale Book Festival stash, inching the book I bought.