Several days ago, I began a project that at first glance, seemed straightforward and easy. So, I jumped right in with both feet and a smile. The project? Re-tiling a small section of floor that my wonderful daycare children had ruined over the years with their tiny fingers pluck, pluck, plucking at the corners and breaking off pieces. I figured it would take me an afternoon. Ha!!! It turned into an almost three day ordeal.
I started out with a 4" putty knife, and a Dyson vacuum. Placing the edge of the putty knife next to a ruined corner, I pushed and pried and prodded, using far more muscle in my back, shoulders and arms than I would have thought necessary. After a few tiles, I sat back on my heels and thought "there's got to be a better way." I quickly added my hairdryer, the heat loosening the adhesive backing. It helped, but still took a fair amount of elbow grease. Several hours later, I plucked the last tile from the floor and surveyed the sticky residue adhering to the painted sub-floor. Now came the next thought, how to get the residue off.
Now some of you might think, why didn't I just put the new vinyl tile down? I wish it were that simple. Vinyl tile is very unforgiving and if there is even a small imperfection on the floor, a dip, a bump, a blemish, it will eventually show through in the tile and wear off the finish or crack the tile. So began the menagerie of substances designed to removed gooey guck. I tried Goo Gone, Solu-mel (both diluted and undiluted) a special adhesive remover designed specifically for said adhesive. I even tried putting sand from the sand box on top of it and then sanding it. All that happened was now I had a colorful stuck on layer of sand and a ruined sanding belt. It wasn't until my husband brought in a can of paint stripper. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "why not."
It worked. It came up like butter.
Then I sanded, filled in holes, sanded again, filled in more holes, sanded and then painted the floor. Finally, after days of backbreaking work and achy bruised knees, I was able to place the first tile down, and in as little as 40 minutes, I had a new beautiful surface.
Then, I began the next project, which was a larger section of floor, same job as before.
I'm sure at this point you are asking, what in the world does flooring have to do with plotting. I'm getting there. I promise.
As I worked on the new section, I thought about what I had learned from the first go round and what knowledge I now had to make this larger area go quicker. And then as my thoughts often do, they drifted to writing and more specifically a writing workshop I took the other weekend. As I went back and forth thinking of these two seemingly unrelated topics, I realized, my flooring experience is not so unlike my writing experiences.
If you remember, the first section I just jumped headlong into. And that's how I write. By the seat of my pants. But I have often thought, how much easier it would be with some planning and outlining. But try as I might, I get impatient and just want to get started. Which there is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach. So fellow pansters, pants away.
But remember, there is a time to plot. And here comes in my second section of flooring. I had my experience to learn from with the first section, so now I was prepared. I now had a better heat gun to release that adhesive in seconds, a better shop vacuum, knee pads, and the added benefit of knowing the best way to remove the residual stickiness. Now, you can take your rough draft, your first chunk of your book, and stop pansting and take a moment to outline and plot.
Martha Alderson has made it a whole lot simpler with her plot planner. Divide your manuscript up into four parts and each of the major events in the pictured planner should fall as outlined.
When your MC realizes life is no longer as they know it, that is the beginning of the end and should be about 1/4 of the way in. Halfway through is your re-commitment scene, which can be confused with the crisis, but this is where something happens to your MC whether internally or externally that makes them shift their view on their current issue or problem. At the 3/4 mark, this is where your MC regroups after completely reaching bottom. They've just had a major crisis and they aren't sure how to deal with it. Here is where they regroup and take over. Things stop happening to them and they start making things happen. At the climax, we should see a transformation of your MC and a resolution to all the turmoil.
The tools I had to finish the second section of flooring helped me greatly to get the job done quicker. Could I have done it without the improved tools? Sure. But it would have taken longer and it might not have turned out as well and if would have been far more painful for me. When you write, you need to make sure you are equipped with the best tools you can find. If you like the Plot Planner, I'd recommend you get a copy of Martha's book or find the right plot tool that works for you. Your finished work will be all the more beautiful for the hidden, underlying hard work you put into it.
The finished floor.
I think I did a pretty good job *pats self on back*
Stephanie N. Pitman, Author
The written word is magical...
Follow My Blog
Blogs & Authors