Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PEP Rally: Fleshing Out the Plot

It's time for another PEP Rally by our guestblogger Sam. That's Productivity Ego Procrastination, and it's three suggestions to help start your writing week off right.  Last week Sam posted a successful post about getting to know your characters through a character interview.  This week we're working on plot development! Have fun!


This week for Productivity, it’s all about fleshing out your plotline, and it’s a bit of an arts and crafts moment, too. Grab an old binder, get a cheap one at the dollar store, or one of the single binder rings you can sometimes get at office supply stores. If none of those things are handy, a bit of string or old shoe lace will do just fine. Find yourself a nice stack of index cards (or cut a bunch of paper into uniform-ish rectangles) and punch a hole in the upper left corner of every one so that you can put them on the binder or piece of string like flashcards. Use these cards to write out the different plot points that you want to hit over the course of your story; just a few keywords to keep your ideas in line.

I like to treat these things as a sort of writing diary, keeping several blank cards by my bed and in my bag. They fold up pretty nicely for a pocket as well, just flatten them under a few of your most massive books. Don’t worry about not knowing exactly where you want to go, the binder ring allows you to add and remove things as you please. If you’re using string, do remember to tie with a bow instead of a knot! You might not find divine inspiration through this but it will put everything up in plain sight. Hopefully this new perspective of organization, moving away from a traditional outline in word, will smooth your way from beginning to middle and end.

Ego boost!

This weeks Ego booster is writeordie.com. Now, calm down for a moment there. It may seem like a Productivity thing at first but trust me, get a few rounds under your belt and you’ll understand. For those of you haven’t used it before, here’s a basic run down. You plug in the word count you want to reach and decide how long you want to give yourself to write it. Next, you’ll choose the severity of your consequence if you don’t reach your word count. But don’t worry you can add on one of three different types of grace periods that will give you a bit of bumper room. That’s it. Now all you have to do is put those fingers to those keys and go crazy.

Make sure you pick something difficult though. The point of the whole thing is to write like mad, so 50 words in 10 minutes isn’t going to help you. Challenge yourself! Set the bar a bit higher than you might want to! As you watch the numbers in the word counter climb higher with each second that drops off your time, you’re going to feel that adrenaline start to pump. As you reach towards that goal and win, it’ll feel like your on the top of the world. And if you happen to fail, start over again from you left off writing the last time and try and beat your time. At the end you’ll feel accomplished and have a nice chunk of new words to add to your piece! If that isn’t an ego boost, I don’t know what is!


This time around for your dose of Procrastination, it’s a game full of filthy rotten fluff. If you have yet to play Robot Unicorn Attack, I commend you for somehow avoiding the sparkling, rainbow temptation. The name pretty much explains it all. You play as a robot unicorn and leap majestically from island to island collecting fairies and blowing up giant stars. I dare you to play just the once, to go through your first three wishes and then close out of the window. I’m almost positive that you can’t do it. The background song, Always by Erasure, will stick in your head long after you’ve stepped away from your keyboard. Before you know it, you’ll be up far past your usual way-past-proper-bed-time trying to tack on a few more points to your score. Good luck!

Today's  post is brought to you by our very special guest blogger, Sam Spellman. Sam is currently an undergraduate at Beloit College and hopes to obtain a degree in Creative Writing, with a possible double major in Psychology. When not tackling school, Sam spends time with her friends and Kappa Delta sisters or re-mastering old school Mario Video games. She works in the technical services department of Beloit’s library

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