How Do I Plot? Let Me Count The Ways

The question often comes up.  How do I plot?  Well I’ve kicked this topic around before and today we’ll kick it around again. Okay, in truth I am rehashing an old post but it’s a worth while topic. Recently I did a guest spot on Ute Carbone’s blog. For a change, I put a fair amount of thought and effort into the post instead of flying by the seat of my pants. (A writing style I excel at.) I rather liked the post and have decided to recycle it here.

It wasn’t that long ago that I learned that there are two types of writers. Personally, I’ve always found the names for them quite funny. I mean, how can you not laugh at the terms plotter and pantser? When I hear plotter, I think grave yards and creepy old dudes with shoves. Pantser? I picture someone dancing with their pants around their ankles, and it ain’t pretty.

Seriously, plotters are those writers who plan their stories from start to finish with all the details, story lines, events and characters in place before they put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard. They even make notes! On the other hand, pantsers are those writers who begin with an idea or character and start writing, flying by the seat of their pants, making it up as they go along.

Being the difficult person I am, as a writer, I am a hybrid. I am fueled by licorice allsorts and coffee or alternately by Vodka and Pepsi, depending on the time of day. Oh wait, that’s not what I meant. What I should have said, is that I’m part plotter, and part pantser. I start with a scene in my head and maybe part of a plot. Then I wiggle it around until I have a storyline going. Then the fun begins, and I start writing. I add details of the characters’ lives, descriptions and conflicts as they come to me.

On a good day, I can follow the characters where they lead me and writing is okay. On bad days, I scribble and scratch down words only to delete them ten minutes later. This is the flying by the seat of my pants part. I keep working and playing, hoping that my characters will lead me someplace worth going. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Often, they lead me to some place entirely different from where I was originally headed.

Last week, Jason kept talking to me. Now, you have to understand that Jason isn’t a real person. He’s is, or rather was, a character in my current erotic story. (Working title Tessa’s Trio.) Jason kept telling me to change his name. His nagging voice grated on my nerves and irritated me every time he appeared in the story. Eventually, I gave in to the madness and changed his name. Thus, Mitch was born. Jason is gone, and so are the voices. That’s good, right?

In the spirit of making it up as I go along, I’ve been known to steal ideas where ever I find them. On occasion, I pick up an idea from watching other people and can be found eavesdropping almost anywhere. Many ideas come to me in dreams. Yesterday, I woke up thinking of one of my many works in progress and words popped into my head out of nowhere. I scratched them down as quickly as possible. I thought what came to me wasn’t bad . . .

Peter crossed the room, a slow smile lighting his face. Stopping before Beth, he cupped her cheek in his hand, leaned down and kissed her softly. “Hi,” he whispered, his eyes sparkling with happiness. “It’s good to see you. I’ve missed you.” He leaned in again, kissed her senseless and walked away, leaving her staring at his retreating back, listening to her heart pound.


Beth watched him from across the room. Sweat glistened on the back of his neck. The game was tied, and both teams were exhausted, but she had lost interest in the game. All she could see was the sweat beading on Peter’s skin. She could almost smell its enticing masculine aroma from here. She licked her dry lips, closed her eyes and lost herself in the image of licking the sweat from his skin.

So now, I have two paragraphs, and in my mind each has fleshed out to a complete scene. I’m just hoping I can write them so they read as steamy on paper as they do in my mind. As a bonus, each will actually advance the romantic plot! Again, this is the pantser part. The story started with a great opening scene between two people forbidden by circumstances to be together. I had no idea where to go from there. But over time, their lives have changed and Peter and Beth have fumbled their way into a relationship and what might be a lasting love. All I have to do know is invent the ending.

So I’m off now, to plot or maybe to fly by the seat of my pants. Have a good one!