Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pantser to Plotter...Now What? by Dora Hiers

Last week we talked about my decision to migrate from Pantser to Plotter. Now what?

As a Pantser (not under contract), you have flexibility in your schedule. You may have a daily word count goal, but without a deadline, it doesn't really matter if you reach your goal. You can make up for it the next day or just extend the length of time it takes to write the book.

But what happens when you become a Plotter and submit a proposal for books that aren't yet written? A component of the proposal requires a completion date. How do you come up with a time frame to complete the books?


A calendar? 

Not the ideal solution. Especially when you're working on multiple books. There's just no easy way to adjust your schedule, if it becomes necessary. 

A timeline would work. One with the capability to insert tasks by book and keep a running word count total. You can google timeline and you’ll find hundreds of options. Be sure to pop back over here and let me know if you find something that works for you. I didn't.

Instead, I chose to create a fairly basic Excel document with the date, book title, task, word goal, and a running total. Starting with a realistic weekly word count, I mapped out each book, dividing the weekly goal into a targeted daily word count, taking into consideration vacations and holidays. I used "fill color" to highlight different books, so that I can easily decipher the transition from one book to the next. I add my word count for each day, and adjust if necessary. Now, I have completion dates for each book in my proposal.

It's not perfect, either, but it works for now. Here are some pros:

Accountability. A daily goal keeps me focused and on track. I completed my first book a few days ahead of schedule. 

Time saver. With the plotting already done, I know the direction the story needs to go, which saves time daily.

Freedom. When I accomplish my goal early, I’m free to work on other tasks or keep writing. It’s my choice.

Accomplishment. A sweet feeling, right?

And only one negative so far:

Pressure. So far, I’ve experienced only one negative. If you’re having a tough writing day and the words aren’t flowing, it’s tough not to get discouraged or feel the pressure. On these days, I really hunker down to keep at it. Some days I might type only dialog if that’s flowing better, or switch to action beats and what’s happening. If that still doesn’t work, I regroup by working on another writerly task and try to compensate my word count during the week. But, that’s a last resort.
It's your turn. 

If you're a Plotter, which organizational software works well for you?

After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. But Delaney’s not so little anymore—and definitely not the young “Dane” Sage remembers. 

Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control and order while she embraces life and takes risks. As much as the idea appeals to her, she doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her?

Will Delaney ever be the woman Sage wants by his side? Can Sage learn to live by grace, recognizing that God is in control? Can they overcome their fears to embrace life together?

Journey's Embrace ~ Coming March 1st!


  1. As one who is considering using Scrivener for my next project, I'll be interested in reading others' responses to your question, Dora.

    Also, your advice about hunkering down and pulling out that word count when it doesn't want to come is very important.

    1. Hey, Sandy.

      I haven't used Scrivener, so I can't attest to its ability to track tasks with days. I use OneNote, and it has so many capabilities that I'm not even aware of, but I haven't found anything that would help with this. Any Scrivener or OneNote users here? Care to chime in?

  2. Great idea, Dora. I'd love to see a copy of your worksheet sometime.

    I've used both Scrivener and OneNote and no, I haven't learned how to use all the capabilities either, so I can't offer a lot of help. Right now I'm using a combination of Circus Ponies' Notebook, which is a Mac-compatible OneNote and Scrivener. I use Notebook to keep research and Scrivener for my WIP. And no, I can't find a timeline I like either.

    So, there's my thoughts. I wish I had more helpful info. Anyone else out there have any suggestions?

    1. Hey, Angie. I tried to crop a section off and import into the blog post, but I couldn't get it to work. I'll bring along a copy on Saturday.

      You're the most techie-whiz person I know, so if you haven't found an appropriate timeline, there probably isn't one out there. :-)


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