Posts Tagged ‘ari thatcher


Plotting Can Be Your Friend

Plotter or Pantser? New writers hear this question often. A plotter diagrams where the story is headed before she gets started, so when she finishes a scene, she knows right where to start the next one. A pantser sits back and watches where the story takes her.

But it’s not as simple as that. Plotters are letting the story and characters take them on the same road, they’re just using a map to find the most direct route. Think about it: You’re driving from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale. Do you plan your trip, decide what cities you’ll need to fuel in and what hotels you’ll sleep in, or do you head east on the I-10 and take a guess at every junction which will get you there faster?

If you have plenty of time it might be interesting to be a pantser, as long as you pay attention to those signs saying “Next Gas 80 Miles”. If you get off-track you can always find your way back. You’ll get there eventually. But the quickest way, assuming you pay attention to the road signs, is to have a plan.

With plotting, you start with the conflict. What goals to the hero and heroine have and how do those goals clash? Yes, they can have the same goal and have all their battles be against an enemy, but what about character growth? What will they learn while working side-by-side to make them worthy of winning love?

Plotting works hand in hand with conflict. If you start with the question, “What does he want and what keeps him from getting what he wants?”, the plot is what’s keeping him from reaching his goal. Most scenes need conflict. If it doesn’t have conflict, it needs to be adding character development or a similar element to the story. Don’t let a scene pass where nothing happens, then you have no plot.

For each scene, answer your question of what stands in his way. You can be as detailed as you like. A pantser might just want to use a single sentence, allowing the scene to develop as you write. A plotter can give an entire overview of the scene.

While looking at the scenes, watch for your turning points:
Point One – life as the hero knows it changes, he has a goal. Usually about 10% into the story.
Point Two – change of plans. Either he realizes his plan isn’t working, or the heroine has set up a new road block. 25% of the story.
Point Three – the point of no return. He’s gotten himself in deeply enough he knows he can’t walk away. 50% point of the story.
Point Four – major setback. It’s really beginning to look like he can’t reach his goal. 75% of the story.
Point Five – climax. The turning points have been building in strength, the boulders in the road getting bigger. This is the spot where he has to bring out the dynamite, put his life on the line, prove to the heroine that she can’t live without him. 90 – 95% of the story.

As a pantser, you might just list those points and let the story take you there. I prefer to at least make note of the scenes in between, the conflict in between, to keep my fingers moving on the keyboard.

Even after you’ve sketched your plot, you might find new ideas flowing when you see where the characters take you. But you know the next spot you need to read on your map so you can easily find an alternate route to get there.


Conflict – It’s a Good Thing

I admit it, I am a very non-confrontational person. If I can get away with letting something slide, I will. In real life, it generally means I’m easy to get along with, a good thing. When it comes to your characters and plot, this is a very bad thing.

Think about it. Boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. The end. Where’s the story? They didn’t earn a happily ever after. He didn’t slay dragons to save his lady fair. She didn’t have to give up her long-standing mani-pedi appointment to have lunch with him before he leaves the country for six months. Do we really care that they got together? We probably didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

But try this: Boy meets girl. Boy’s company wants to buy the house her grandmother was born in so he can tear it down and put up a super-mall. Boy forgets to tell girl he owns the company she’s now fighting in court. Boy seduces girl with his sweet-talking ways, the same ways that built his enterprise of super-malls. Girl sleeps with boy, offers her heart, goes to mediator the next morning and finds boy sitting on the other side of the table ready to take away the home she wanted to turn into a recovery facility for returning soldiers suffering PTSD.

Are you going to turn the page to watch the sparks fly? Sure, you know it’s a romance, so they’ll end up happily ever after. But aren’t you salivating at the thought of fireworks, name-calling, uncontrolled passionate kisses against their better judgment? I know I want to finish plotting the darned thing to see how they work this one out.

Girl has a goal that means the world to her. Boy stands firmly planted in her only known path to the goal. Boy stands to lose business/income/status if he lets girl win, and maybe Daddy will take away his key to the board members gym.

That’s conflict. You know you can’t let the hero win, everyone will be rooting for those soldiers. Now you need to find the twist, the ending that we’re totally not expecting. A resolution that makes the reader want to hug the book and clear a spot on her keeper shelf. But don’t let us know until we’ve given up hope that girl will get to save those war heroes. Keep them fighting, keep her losing until we can’t see how on earth you’re going to fix it for us.

When you let us see the magnificent solution we never would have thought of, yet seems so obvious we’ve decided you’re a genius, then you know your story is done. You’ve kept us hooked, kept us up until two a.m., made us find the charger for our ereaders because the battery is dying. Then you know that as soon as we read, THE END, we’re connecting to the internet to buy everything else you’ve ever written because we now trust you with our hearts.

Many happy sales!


Paranormal Party!!

The authors at Paranormal Romantics are having a Halloween Party on Saturday, all day! In addition to their regular contributors, there will be guest bloggers (including yours truly, Ari Thatcher) and tons of prizes given away. A new post will go up each hour. Right now it’s scheduled to start at noon eastern time, but there are so many joining the fun it might start earlier!

Come on by and join the fun! Read through each post to find out how to enter for prizes. Some winners will be chosen from comments, others will have to respond to the author’s request. Either way, enter and win!


Los Angeles Book Signing 10/18/09

This Sunday, 10/18/2009, I’ll be at a book fair with my fellow authors at the Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter of RWA. From 12:30pm until 2:00 p.m. twelve of us will be signing books. If you present a voucher at checkout anytime during store hours on Sunday, a percentage of your purchase will go to the Los Angeles Romance Authors chapter.

Who can you meet? You mean I’m not enough? Okay, I know. Here’s the list:

Linda O.Johnston
Christine London
Trish Silver
Sabrina Darby
Charlene Sands
Joanne Sundell
Dayle Dermatis
Trish Albright
Julia Amante
Kate Willoughby
Dorothy Howell
Jennifer Haymore
Tanya Hanson
Ari Thatcher
Leigh Court

We’ll be at the Barnes and Noble, 16461 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA. I hope to see you there!


August 2020

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