WIP Coaching


First: Good luck to all those in the A-Z Challenge. I was a little overwhelmed about taking it on, so I didn’t. Now I’m thinking it’ll still be overwhelming because so many people on my reading list are participating and for April. Google Reader is going to fill up quick! How do I keep up?


I announced last week I won a Gabriela Lessa’s Best Future Manuscript Contest, which means I get the chance to have Gabi be my writing coach.
WIP Coaching. What is it?
A writing coach helps you finish your manuscript by making you stick to deadlines, helping with plotting and tightening your writing and anything else you might need during your writing process.
I had my first Skype session with Gabi this week to discuss CHLOE. AT that time, I was at 21,000 words, have the beginning and middle planned, but not the end. My big question/decision was, what direction did I want to take with CHLOE?
The issue was whether to add a mystery angle to my story, making a suicide into a murder that Chloe discovers? After talking with Gabi, I feel confident saying no to the mystery angle. This story is not a full-blown mystery and so throwing that in sort of complicates not only the genre, but might create too many other issues. I think just talking about it aloud helped figure out things, because I’d never been set on making into a mystery.
So now I know this story is about Chloe’s life and how she finds herself as she’s discovering the horrible things that lead to her brother’s suicide.
That settled. Whew-but I still don’t know the ending yet. I’m writing my ideas down, but not sure exactly what the climax will be.
The next thing Gabi suggested doing was an outline and learning about plotting, because that was one of my big writing issues: plotting and pacing. I can recognize my writing weaknesses, but plotting and pacing issues are not so easy for me to see.
Do you outline before you write?
I don’t, being more of a pantster. When I’ve finished a big chunk of writing, I’ll sort of outline, writing down the order of things. Then I might look at how to change the sequence, but half my ideas don’t come until after I’ve started writing.
These are my next things to accomplish. (Along with continuing to write)
*Outlining. I tried setting up an old-fashioned outline in Word. Why is it so darn hard? I’ve given up and decided to do it in Excel. I assume every author does thing differently, so my outline will be sparse—as in the general idea of a chapter/scene.
*Learning about plotting. I’m actually going to get some books and read about how you should plot novels. I found one book on the Marshall Plan—that is so not for me. But I’ll also look at the three-act structure too. Of course I won’t write according to these ideas, but I’ll probably get my story written and then see how it fits into these plot structure ideas. It may then help me see my problems and issues.
Anyways, I’m curious about other writers. For those planners out there, do you carefully follow a plotting style? And for the pantsters, after you’ve written your story, do you analyze your plot according to a certain plotting style?

9 Responses

  1. I’m a half and half (I call myself a plantser). I use index cards and plot about four scenes at a time (which are usually four chapters). I learned about the cards from Scene and Structure by Jack Bickham and that book is amazing. I highly recommend it for learning about structure. It wasn’t long, either. I think I read it in a day or two.

    I’m with you on the A-Z challenge. I just got done telling my husband that everyone in Google Reader is doing it, so there’s a ton of blog updates. I think I’m going to have to give myself permission to not comment on all the blogs I usually do. I feel a little guilty, but all the time to comment was why I didn’t join the Challenge!

    1. I’ll have to check out the Jack Bickham book. Right now I’m just looking at everything out there than I can. I saw your guest posting from Gary G. earlier this month so I’ve gone back to reference that too. I just never thought about plot structure until now–guess it’s time to learn. Thanks.

  2. Hi there! Yep, I always outline. I have to, to keep my structure and plot tight. I ususally know what every chapter needs to have in it before I start writing so it keeps me on track. What I don’t have, is the characters and they’re interactions and musings… which is the fun part of the first draft.
    Good luck with everything!

    1. Wow. Being a person who just writes first, it’d be interesting to just try that some time. Outline first before writing a thing. I’m afraid I’d have a hard time though. I get too excited about starting the writing sometimes.

  3. Wow, what a great prize! I was never a plotter until I had to go back on my two WIP’s and rewrite the second half of both because pantsing just didn’t work great for me plot-wise. After that, with this latest project, I’ve outlined it a bunch of times, just to save myself a bunch of rewriting and frustration later on! It’s much better, although I do have to have those pants moments where I just let my imagination wander, otherwise, it takes all the fun out of it!! 😀

  4. Congrats, Suzi! That’s awesome!

    I do like to plot, but that’s because I like to know where my characters are going and how the story ends. 🙂 I’m such a control freak. Ha!

  5. Congrats on winning! That’s an awesome prize too!! My first ms was a total plot outline turned story. Needless to say, it’s in a box in my attic 🙂 This time, I tried the best I could to be a pantser. I am not a pantser in my life so it was interesting. Every now and then, I’d have this great idea for where my story should go, I’d jump ahead and write a scene/chapter and then work through the middle events. It was fun and I still find myself filling a hole or two with scenes, but I liked the process much better this time 🙂 Good luck with Chloe 🙂

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