Friday, January 31, 2014

How I Became a Plotter: Ideas

(art by me)
As a pantser I came across story ideas naturally: overhearing a conversation, through inspiring music lyrics, maybe from a vivid dream.

While these idea-harvesting methods can definitely produce, I am on a mission to become a full-fledged plotter. I intend to use as much strategy and planning and list-making as is humanly possible.*

I needed some way to come up with decent ideas quickly AND for when I am not feeling particularly creative. Enter Google. So I actually found several good idea generators but my favorite is one I had never heard of before. After trying it out, I couldn't stop playing around with it!

Here is a summary of the exercise:

1. Head on over to IMDB.
2. Try not to get distracted.
3. Click on their Top 250 list.
4. Pick a movie and view the Synopsis (It's easier if it's a movie you are not familiar with)
5. Use your imagination and think up alternate settings, types of characters, and situations for that synopsis. Tip: Don't think to hard, just have fun.
6. Open up a blank document, or pull out a sheet of paper, and plug your new setting, characters, situations into the corresponding areas of the IMDB synopsis.
7. BOOM! Instant (detailed) story idea!

For the full details on the IMDB exercise and to see more idea-getting goodies ("Enlist your Passion" is another favorite) Check out How to Write a Book Now's idea page!

Next Time: Characters (and how they relate to plot)
Previous Post: How I Became a Plotter - The Intro

*Consider yourself warned.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How I Became a Plotter: Intro

I used to be a pantser.

Ah. It feels good to get that out in the open.* Actually, technically I still am a pantser, I'm pantsing this post right now. What I should have said is I am learning to be a plotter.**

A little tidbit about me. I am...let's call it: genuinely-interested-in-being-organized-and-having-a-plan-for-everything. I am one of those weird people who gets excited about making lists, filling out forms, creating charts, and neatly ziplocking all of the outfits in my suitcase when I go on vacation.***  I am not OCD. I am also not in denial.

Anyway, why I thought I had ANY business being a pantser in the first place is beyond me. Maybe because, as an illustrator, I have had this image of a messy, paint splattered, eccentric artist burned into my brain since youth. But whatever the reason, pantsing is not for me.

Now, lucky you, I've decided to document my journey from lost pantser to full-fledged (successful?) plotter over the course of a single story. In other words, I plan to walk you through my plotting progress as I form a story idea, plot outline, polish a manuscript and everything in between. I hope someone finds it helpful.

To start off this plotting journey, I Googled.
Let me tell you, the plotting resources are nearly endless. Here are a few of my favorites:

Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps
Omg, just take an afternoon a devour this entire site. I'm not even kidding.

Writers Write
Great tips all the time on a variety of writing related things.

Smooth Draft Editing
I love their tips on building characters.

PS Literary Pinterest Boards
Seriously, they pin some fantastic stuff. Everything from writing strategies to social media tips.

J.K. Rowling's Order of the Phoenix plotting notes
If this doesn't inspire the plotter in you, I don't know what will.

Next time on The Blog: Using planning and strategy to come up with a story idea.

*There is nothing wrong with pantsing if it works for you. It just didn't work for me...which I learned the hard way.

**For those who do not speak Writer, a plotter is NOT an evil villain who sits around twirling his curly moustaches and plotting evil plans. Neither is a pantser someone who runs around de-pantsing strangers. These terms refer to HOW a writer writes. The plotter lays out their story in detail so they know every twist and turn their story will take and how it will end. Whereas a pantser refers to the writer who sits in front of a blank screen or sheet of paper and writes as they are inspired. They let the story and the characters evolve as they will.

***Please tell me I'm not the only person who does's is such a space saver.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Squash in Progress

Since many of you enjoyed seeing how I created "The Rebel", I decided to do another art-in-progress post. This one is of my sweet little creativity mascot, Squash. He recently wriggled his way into a new children's book story idea.

First, I sketch in Photoshop CS5. This one is fairly clean but without much detail:

Next I choose/refine my lines and add details. I usually do this traditionally, with ink and paper, but I've been trying to make the move over to digital. You can still see the sketchiness in the under layers here:
Now it's time to pick my colors and block them in. I really enjoy doing this part in Photoshop because if I'm not sure about a color (which is often) I can easily play around with them until I'm satisfied:

Finally, I shade and add highlights. I think many pro artists who understand Photoshop better than I have ways of using its lighting tools to make this step easier, but I pick my shadow and highlight colors using the trial and error experience I've gained creating art with colored pencils:

There he is! Such a sweet little guy! He's got nothing but love...and spikey tentacles.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Disney" Eyes.

I've always wanted to work for Disney. *sigh* Have to practice the Disney Princess eyes first. ;)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Color Your World

This is why I love Fred (of my picture book Frigl and Fred Go to Bed); he creates his world without fear. He simply does his thing, making messes and art in the same stroke and loving every minute. 

How awesome would it be if we all gave in to creativity without holding back for fear of messes or mistakes?

It'd be beyond awesome. It'd be beawesome.