Tag Archives: Framer

Author Toolbox 4: Discover The Layers Of A Story

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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I call the writer that uses both plotting and pantsing a framer. I’m one of these people and it has made my writing life much better. It’s given me a chance to discover the layers of my story.

Plotter

I’ve already mentioned I outline (synopsis) the overall story. My thinking is simply: if I can tell the story in a coherent manner, I can sell it. Or that’s the theory. I make sure the tension rises, the plot holes are filled and all the little threads are tied up in a nice bow before I begin pantsing. The threads I leave hanging are because I like to imagine my characters carrying on. As if I popped in for an exciting part of their lives and popped out again. Who knows, maybe I’ll return at a later date.

Pantser

I break the outline into doable sections with specific directions of what needs to happen.

I let loose. The creative juices flow. They know what direction I’m going and how fast I have to get there. No doubt many of us do this part. hehehe.

It’s why we’re here, reading and learning new techniques.

Layers

During all of this I think about the layers of the story because to me there are a minimum of two. The one on top is the one the reader enjoys until they realize more is going on than just surface stuff.

I give every character an agenda. Their own goal and what they are willing to do to achieve it.

Where I start

I give several characters an overlapping background that I don’t give away so much as let them react to. For example, as kids someone’s parent ran over another’s cat and someone is not letting the memory go. Another possibility is someone was a no-show at the prom, leaving their date to go alone. When they meet again, it’s time for a confrontation.

The layers of the story is where the character connect/disconnect with each other. I like to write mysteries, so each one of my characters has motive to kill the victim. Each one of them has a reason to kill another cast member. Each one of them had opportunity and the means to kill the victim or each other.

Going Deeper

I write the underlayer before I let my creative writing loose. Then once I’ve written a few more chapters, I adapt my underlayer again and again. Until it guides me through the worse/best of them. Motivations become clear when each character has an agenda, feelings that drive them down only one road—it may be interrupted, but is never forgotten, and then I try to write the story I first outlined.

The surface may appear smooth. But like a duck, much of the action hides below the surface, churning up all kinds of fun and trouble.

Have you done this? Any tips for me?

Other links you may like:

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I’m not a Plotter or a Pantser; I’m a Framer.

 

I like to think of myself as somewhere in between plotter and pantser. Whatever that might be.

When I think of a plotter, I think outline. And when I think of an outline, I think every step planned out, leaving no room for creativity.

When I think of pantser, I think of someone sitting down to type/write, letting their creativity flow to create a fabulous story. Sure, and I’ve done this but only when writing a short.

Its fun not knowing where the story may take you, but there are consequences.

My problem with pantsing is that I tend to roam off course. Hard to maintain a heading when I don’t know what direction I’m supposed to go. Sure its fun and can be rewarding, but sometimes the story never ends–think run-on sentence. When writing a short story, the roaming isn’t a large word count. The percentage is still high, but doing several revisions and rewrites will clean it up. But when doing something bigger, there will be huge blocks of wasted time.

First rule of revision, in my mind anyway, is to surgically remove unnecessary scenes. These scenes can, and usually do, contain large word counts that were not moving the story forward, or have gone off on an unrelated tangent. I’m too lazy to repeatedly kill off my darlings, so I found another solution.

All frameworks are specific to the writer; and to do one properly, the I had to think about the story in very general terms.

I start with the shape of the story I want to tell. I have a feeling, small inkling, about the each character of the players, and what they want. I know most of the plot points, but am not sure how to get here. I know the twist in advance, and also keep a list of a few other possibilities–just in case. I know the ending, but only to a degree. When I do my framing, I land up with fist’s full of questions I need to consider as I write. Those questions spur me on.

And I know one other thing. I know the story behind the story.

After all my thinking is done, I’m ready to begin, and I let the panster loose. Sometimes she blows my mind, because the ideas flow so smoothly. Unfortunately, flow is not a constant yet which proves I still have tons to learn about the craft. That’s okay with me. So far, using a framework is the closest I’ve come to feeling like a professional author. I love the results.