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Author Topic: Plotting Workshop Group
Bent Tree
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One of the most productive activities that I have done in my workshopping experience has been a real time plotting workshop. Annepin and I started doing this a few years ago, and I have done it randomly with several writers. Basically this is a great preliminary tool for outlining a project before writing it and writing yourself into a corner. It has proven to eliminate hours of editing rewriting, and has saved the days waiting on feedback from critiques.

Basically, you type up a general outline of your story, introduce your characters, etc... send it to another in the group and set up an hour or half hour window in which two or three writers can enter a chat via a real time online chat and discuss the plot, characters, motives, etc.. Mostly it is a good Q&A session that can help you see holes in your plot, general problems, and such before you write yourself into a writers block or point of frustration.

Essentially, this will be a perpetual group. People will come and go. I propose we, when we have a project in mind to start, let it be known here and as two or three become available begin. Initially, I will host one full-time slot and therefore will be available for a workshop relatively fast. I have a good deal of experience with this so I can coach the process to newcomers.

This style of workshopping is not quite like anything else going on around here. I am sure that it doesn't fit the style of how many writers write, but I encourage you to take the chance and see first-hand how rewarding it can be. Long term, it teaches you how to mentally undergo this process before you write and can be a real benefit to your writing disciplines.

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Meredith
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Sounds interesting. I'm about two-thirds of a pantser, but I still like to know at least the major plot points before I start to keep me from going too far off into the weeds.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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You have my complete support and full encouragement on this. I think it would be a great help to writers to be able to do this, and I'd love to see workshop forum space used this way.
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Bent Tree
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Any recommendations or advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated and thank you for your support, KDW
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Bent Tree
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Meredith, I used to be the same way. And this really changed how I write. It also will save you from starting a story that just really doesn't have all the right elements yet.
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History
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I'd be interested, time-permitting.
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Bent Tree
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So, I suppose just post your handle when you have a story ready to develop. I will sit in as full time partner until this takes off a little more. We can email each other from there to set up the time and chat venue.
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Brendan
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I'm interested. But I am not sure what the time differences would mean. It may restrict when it can be done.
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Bent Tree
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Anne and I used to coordinate from coast to coast and Phobos and I used to communicate from wherever she was at the time; New Zealand, Japan, Australia. Just a matter of scheduling an amicable time and I am really flexible
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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quote:
Originally posted by Bent Tree:
Any recommendations or advice on the matter would be greatly appreciated and thank you for your support, KDW

Heh. Remind me in a week or so. Right now, most of my time is being taken up with attending to my mother who is home from going to the hospital because of blood clots in her lungs.
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Teraen
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I'd like to do this. Although, I tend to have a bad habit of diving in too deep when I get excited about something, to the point where I find I am swimming in water that is too deep.

I'd like to use this to work on my novel or my WOTF short story.

And personally, I don't know if I would need to chat, or just have a conversation via email over a couple of messages... Though either way would be interesting. All of my current writing friends have been with my projects from inception, and so I think it may be helpful to have fresh eyes on it.

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Bent Tree
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Sorry to hear about your mom, Kathleen. I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers.

@Teraen- Let me know. The real time is a great and productive brainstorming session, but a novel line could be good for email volley.

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Bent Tree
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I am up for one if anyone else has a premise they would like to brainstorm.
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Thanks, Scott.
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LeetahWest
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I just lost my only brainstorming partner when my husband said he didn't want to do it anymore because he wants to focus on his own book. So I am totally up for this. I have a story I have wanted to write for nearly 5 years now but I have very little writing experience. So I am trying to do what I can to plot and plan but don't really know what I am doing. Any help I can get would be awesome. And I love helping other people flesh out their ideas too. I do that a lot for my sister, so I am practiced in that.
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MartinV
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I would also be willing to try at this.
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Teraen
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Ok, so it looks like we have lots of willing parties. Should we organize ourselves into similar styles? For example, I have an epic fantasy novel I am plotting, and a sci-fi short story for WoTF that needs some help. Anyone else working along those lines that thinks they'd like to brainstormify?
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Bent Tree
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I have a SF short (>3500) I need to work up for the Parsec Writing contest. Teraen, if you are interested lets do it.
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MartinV
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I'm on epic fantasy novel too at the moment. Since I'm not from an Anglo-Saxon environment, I would be interested on how the plot of my story would be viewed.
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Bent Tree
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Martin, Let's set something up for next week. Leetah, do you want to join us. I say we both work on your project since it is longer. It will take a whole session.
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Meredith
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I'm in. I don't have anything ready for the group yet, but I'd love to participate.

My half-baked science fiction short story idea isn't quite ready for this treatment. (I'm not sure what end I'm aiming at, yet.) Neither is my YA alternate history.

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Teraen
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Martin, I'd look over your fantasy if you want. Bent Tree, you've already read the short story I need to work on. You mind revisiting that?
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Utahute72
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I wouldn't mind sitting in on one of these to see how it works. I won't have anything ready to critique for a while, but learning the process is always worth it.
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MartinV
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quote:
Originally posted by Bent Tree:
Martin, Let's set something up for next week.

Already on it.
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Bent Tree
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Lets... I will look at it again.

Meridith, If you want to sit in on the session that would be good. Having two, skiing questions to propel the plot works really well. As long as the two are gentle and don't overwhelm the writer.

I have a write up of my overview ready. I will email it to you both and you guys let me know a few times you might be open to chat. I would say an hour for this one.

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Bent Tree
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So here we have two Projects:

Project One
[Short story Exchange] Bent Tree/Teraen

*Meridith- Assisting on plotting

Outline:A.S.A.P (Mailing mine tonight)

Workshop Chat: TBA

Chat Host: Windows Messenger (Or whatever works best for everyone else)

I will send you my work up that I put together. We need to agree upon a time and host for our chat. Teraen. Send Meridith and I your story. I may have it, but probably better to resend it. I delete all my old crits.


Project 2: Martin V Novel

Martin/ Teraen with Utahute72 potentially sitting in.

Same thing: Send us your outline, Martin. We will review it and set up a time.

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MartinV
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Do I send it to everyone or just Teraen and Utahute72?

Edit: I sent the outline to Teraen, Utahute72, Bent Tree and Brendan. If I should send it anyone else, let me know.

[ November 28, 2011, 03:21 PM: Message edited by: MartinV ]

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Bent Tree
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Send me one also, Martin.
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Brendan
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Hey, you can send it here too. I've got one at the early stages of plotting that I can also add (depending on how early you want to discuss the plot - I was thinking about doing this in the early stages, before the plot is fully set)
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LeetahWest
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I would love to join in this. But I might have to come back next round because I don't think I'm quite ready to write down the outline as described yet. But I'm getting close.
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MartinV
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I received Brendan's review. Do I wait for everyone's to arrive or do we just start PM-ing?
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Bent Tree
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Since you have a novel, Martin you could set it up individually. I haven't had time to look at your outline yet. I was hoping to today and we can set up a chat next week sometime if that works for you.

Looks like Brendan may be interested also, so send him a copy.

Too many in a chat can be overwhelming to all involved, but especially the writer. Something this length may require several one-on-one sessions with us.

So as you send out your outline stay in communication with them and set up times accordingly. As for me Next wednesday or tuesday any time will probably work.

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Utahute72
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OK, I'm confused. I thought we would be going over the outline in some kind of group setting, so I perused it, but was waiting to provide comments until I heard about a conference of some kind. Sounds like we are providing comments back. Is this the plan?
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Brendan
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My comments were mainly questions, which I thought may provide starting points for further brainstorming, rather than be a critique. Sort of a pre-brainstorm warmup. (Review is a good word for it in that context.) I suppose that I was trying to separate the "finding problems" part from the "let's toss around options for the solution" part, where brainstormin can really help.

In the brain storms I have had (e.g. at Forward Motion), more participants is better (up to about 5 or 6) as you can spark off each others comments and throw around some humor as well.

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Meredith
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I haven't received anything yet. Might make it hard to participate much in the discussion.

Has a time been set for Teraen's story?

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MartinV
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Meredith, do you want me to send you my outline? I thought we were doing this by groups but if you want mine I'm happy to send you one.
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Bent Tree
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I haven't heard back from Teraen either. Did you not get my outline, Meridith? I am ready to schedule a chat soon on group one.

Martin, I will let you head up communication for your group. I am getting a bit bogged down. Let me know if you want to chat.

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Bent Tree
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quote:
Originally posted by Utahute72:
OK, I'm confused. I thought we would be going over the outline in some kind of group setting, so I perused it, but was waiting to provide comments until I heard about a conference of some kind. Sounds like we are providing comments back. Is this the plan?

Utahute72, Since a novel is such a grand endeavor, I feel like four may overwhelm, Martin, so I left it to his discretion to set up chats. I am available Tuesday or Wednesday next week anytime. Y'all let me know.
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Bent Tree:
I haven't heard back from Teraen either. Did you not get my outline, Meridith? I am ready to schedule a chat soon on group one.

Martin, I will let you head up communication for your group. I am getting a bit bogged down. Let me know if you want to chat.

I haven't gotten anything. My email is Meredith_Mansfield@msn.com.
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LDWriter2
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Some interesting conversations here, I could learn something even though I'm like the late Anne McCaffrey. Who was reported to say she didn't outline.


And I may be like her since I 've been told I'm a natural born storyteller like her.

Too bad I can't write like her though.

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Teraen
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If its all the same to everyone here, I'd just appreciate a good email with the potential to email back and forth with clarifications. Methinks scheduling a chat time will be quite difficult for me given my schedule.

For those who want me to see their stuffs, is that ok, or does you really really want to chat? If so, it might have to be near Christmas sometime...

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MartinV
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I would prefer an e-mail exchange as well. Live chatting makes me jumpy; you want to start talking, then someone jumps in, you listen what they're saying and then you forget what you wanted to say. (Hell, that's like an average real life conversation, isn't it?)

Anyway, the outline I wrote was purely basic. It does not reveal all the detail and I think it's the detail of the story that makes it what it is.

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Utahute72
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I'd be happy to do it either way, just let me know.

I do know that in my experience you get a lot more out of the interaction than just comments. Someone may make a point which will remind you of something, or put you on a different line of thought.

That said, since this is a new process I think either way of handling it would provide some information. I know most on here are used to the comment process, so that may make it more comfortable for them.

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Bent Tree
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Thats fine with me. Send me your story and thoughts again Teraen.

I would however like a chat plotter for my story if anyone is interested, Utah?

I will send an email also.

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Bent Tree
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Meridith, I will resend it. Do you want to chat sometime or do emails work better for you too?
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Bent Tree:
Meridith, I will resend it. Do you want to chat sometime or do emails work better for you too?

Either way. Whatever works for you.

Um, just a thought. But if you spell Meredith with two e's, it's more likely to get to me. [Wink]

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Utahute72
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Sure, just let me know wnen.
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Utahute72
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I thought I'd bump this up just to see if anyone is interested in trying this again. I thought it was a great idea, but it seems to have just petered out.
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aspirit
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I'm interested.
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