Want to change the world? Actually write your book.
Start with a plan. Even if you have a panster’s soul.
Everyone has guiding beliefs. Here’s one of mine.
I truly believe that a good story, well told, can change the world. In fact, very little else ever has.
That’s why it’s so important to me to teach writers how to do the only thing that really matters: actually finish writing their books.
The best way I know to make sure your book actually moves out of the realm of hopes and dreams and really-really-wanting-to is plotting. Starting with a plan for your book is like starting a road trip with a map. It might sound romantic to just get in the car and start driving, but if you actually want to get where you want to go, you need to know where you’re going.
Plotter Vs. Pantser is one of the oldest feuds in the writing world.
Plotters believe in starting their writing process by creating an outline of their proposed novel.
Pantsers believe in just jumping in and writing by the seat of their pants — letting their stories and their characters lead the way.
As a former pantser (who RARELY finished a novel) and current plotter (who almost always finishes what she starts) — I have a theory. All writers are plotters. Some are just better at doing it internally, without charts and plot boards and formal outlines.
I’m a plotter now. I have been since my publisher at Penguin asked to see a synopsis of my second novel before I’d written a word of it — a second book I had a six-month deadline to write. It took two years to write the first book and I didn’t know where that one was going until I was done writing it.
But I’m still a pantser by heart. Really — I’m a rebel in my soul. I can’t stand to be tied down to anything. Certainly not to a story idea. I need a plan, but I need to be able to change it as I write.
A flexible plot.
So, I taught myself how to plot a story. And it worked. I finished my second book on time. And I’ve never looked back. I have another second book under contract. It’s due on January 1, 2019 — a seven-month deadline this time. And I’m starting my plotting method on that one starting June 1.
I call it The Plotting Workshop.
And, because I’m a rebel who loves a group project, I’m inviting anyone who wants to do it, to plot their own novel along with me. All you have to do is sign up for the free course here — and then join the Ninja Writer Facebook Group.
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That’s it. You’ll be able to watch me plot my next book and plot your own right along with me. It’s all free. And it’ll be super fun!
Shaunta Grimes is a writer and teacher. She lives in Reno with her husband, three superstar kids, and a yellow rescue dog named Maybelline Scout. She’s on Twitter @shauntagrimes and is the author of Viral Nation and Rebel Nationand the upcoming novel The Astonishing Maybe. She is the original Ninja Writer. You can be a Ninja Writer, too.