James McGowan Reader Group- Discovery Plotting

Hey, folks. I often come across a lot of commentary in writer-oriented media that speaks of plotting vs. “pantsing”. 

Plotters outline their story beats in advance.  Pantsers, as the name implies, write by the seat of their pants and just start the story to see where it goes.
Another term I’ve heard used for this latter mindset is discovery writing.  It makes it  more of an intentional description, rather than something that’s chaotic.

I have intimate experience with both.  Years ago, I wrote earlier versions of the Players of the Game series, two books at once.  One with Repenter and one with the Burnhelts called Gifts and Curses, which I finished first.  I had plotted both of them out.

However, as I continued with Repenter and then Brigands, I came to the less than optimal realization, that the Gifts and Curses book no longer fit, and it had to be completely disassembled.

I believe my single word at the time was, “Ugh.”

Even plotting is not without its peril.

I chose to look at this creative spillage with its glass half full.  I had a far better idea of where the story needed to go.  And I needed to write it linearly, not in simultaneous parts. 

Plus, I did ultimately incorporate elements of defunct Gifts and Curses into The New Players, The Breakers, and The Game War.  The story beats work better now.

Following this era of hard knocks, I’ve determined like using a mix of the two mindsets. 

Discovery plotting if you will.

I plot out the story in advance, but I treat it more as a loose itinerary rather than a metaphorical GPS map of the story.

I know that I want to visit the Grand Canyon, but I won’t necessarily take the interstate or the airport. I might just hike there by way of the Sandhills of Nebraska and the foothills of the Rockies.

I often discover cool and compelling character and plot points that only emerge as I actually do the writing of the story after the planning stage. It’s a ton of work. 

But it’s fun and it makes my stories better.
Players of the Game Works in Progress
My productivity stats are staying pretty strong through February.  I’m at page 670 with 189,600 words.  Last month had me at page 622 with 175,800 words.

The end is in sight.  And this immense, slobbering mess of a first draft will then be completed.  I’ll put it aside to “marinate” for a little while I make to editing and formatting improvements on some earlier books.

That will likely take several months, which is good.  I need a little added perspective that only the distance of time can give me.

I will almost certainly have to break down and buy Scrivener when I get the the story editing and line editing phase.  I need to reorder a bunch of scenes and chapters on top of the usual refinement, and that will be much easier with Scrivener than Word.

I’ll be interested to see if I like writing in the chapter by chapter format, or I’ll still prefer the endless expanse of Word pages.

Time will tell.

Work in Progress Out of Context Quote of the Month:

“Tradeoffs, hated Rogue. Tradeoffs.”

That was new. Apparently, they shared the other Dragons’ revulsion to an apostate in opposition to Starm’s religion.

Fernallus kissed the air in the Fethelither’s direction.

She hissed back at him.

Leave it to Fernallus to immediately piss off a Demon.
Recommendation Corner
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

I possess many non-popularly held opinions.  Chocolate is always my third choice behind strawberry and vanilla.  I hate Kale and love Spinach.  And I loved this movie.

Yes, I know MODOK was stupid.  But he’s just as stupid in the comics. 

He’s a giant head with tiny arms and legs. 

That’s a ridiculous character that deserves to serve as comic relief. Especially with Cassie’s simplistic advice for him.  It worked for me.

I thought Jonathan Majors was great as Kang, and Michelle Pfeiffer was fantastic with Jan’s haunted recollections.

I had fun.  Recommended.  Just like strawberry.

Brian and Charles

This goofy and sweet movie is a gem.  Brian is an eccentric inventor and handyman who lives in a rural Welsh village.  He’s very introverted and shuns people. Yet, he is so very lonely.

So, of course, he builds a robot.

Charles is made out of a washing machine and other parts like a manikin head with glasses and a grey male-pattern-baldness wig.  The lo-tech effect is the actor playing him wearing a cardboard box with a giant dress shirt over it.  His voice sounds like a British Speak and Spell.

And Charles’s chosen last name of Prechescu is brain breakingly hilarious.

The stakes are mostly comedic misadventures with local bullies and Brian’s romantic interest.  Charles’s quick descent into teenage rebellion when Brian forbids him from traveling to Hawaii is also pure gold.

Give it a watch.
Check Out the Players of the Game Series on Kindle and Paperback
That’s all for this time.

Stay smart.  Stay safe.


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