Normally, I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. I have a good idea of the beginning and the end and some ideas for getting from one to the other; but otherwise, I let my characters lead me. I have a lot of fun and a lot of surprised this way. However, it doesn’t work as well for a novel-length thriller/mystery. Despite the jokes and fantasy setting, that’s what I’m trying to do, and I didn’t want someone to come back disappointed that I’d dropped a clue or left something hanging.

I have a terrific program, Anthemion Storylines. It simulates index cards on a cork board–great for organizing, making notes, storing ideas until I can use them… I’ve written entire stories off of it, and use it to keep track of my Magic, Mensa and Mayhem sequel, Live and Let Fly.  Great program–but it failed me this time. For some reason, my head needed a new method to identify holes, figure out links, etc.

Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, says when she is stuck, she uses Post-It Notes on a white board. So, I spent a couple of hours writing out plot points on blue stickies, re-arranging, consulting my husband, and thinking. And it worked!  Something about the tactile process loosened my brain—or maybe it was because I felt very silly—the eccentric writer.  I can get into that.
As it turned out, the very next week, my characters totally trashed the outline and went haring off on their own—did I mention I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer?—but the exercise of plotting out the sequence of events did its job.  It gave me a direction to start moving in.  Even years later, when I get stuck on a plot, I will turn to this method to get the ideas flowing again.

When a dragon and a nun play secret agent, all Hel breaks loose!  

When Charlie Wilmot, the Duke’s herald and Vern and Grace’s friend, gets mugged and his fiancé’s engagement ring stolen, they agree to find the culprit. But his courier pouch held more than just a ring–the secret device sewn into it could help others create their own Interdimensional Gap–or usher Armageddon into two universes. Drafted into an Interdimensional intelligence network, Vern, Grace and Charlie go undercover–Vern, as a human! It’s super-spy spoofing at its best as 007 meets Ragnarok!


Festival was Friday. We had two days to stop a Nordic demigod evil overlord—overlady, overbeing, whatever—from blowing up a nuclear power plant, possibly destroying half an island full of revelers in the process, and creating an Interdimensional Gap through which she can bring the rest of her giant relatives to set up housekeeping where the Faerie Catholic Church didn’t have the power to control them. In other words, two days until Hel broke loose.
I’ve had worse deadlines. I could afford a long bath in our whirlpool tub and a good meal first. 

More info on Live and Let Fly, click here.
To buy Live and Let Fly:

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem) and a Mensa Owl for best fiction (World Gathering), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky twists that keep her–and her fans–amused. Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George,  zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in Fabian’s worlds. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online. 

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Guest Karina Fabian on Organizing the Plot

7 thoughts on “Guest Karina Fabian on Organizing the Plot

  • April 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks, Pauline. I’m fine, and his wife is surrounded with family, friends and prayers, which is a comfort.

  • April 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Glad you made it! (So sorry for your loss! 🙁 Hope you are doing all right!)

  • April 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Hi, folks, sorry about the delay.

    Larissa,I don’t usually have too much trouble with the big showdown because the characters have gotten themselves well and truly in trouble by then. 🙂 However, in my zombie exterminator novels, I do have to spend time really orchestrating the big attack in the end, because it’s usually a handful of exterminators against the zombie hoard of hundreds. Fortunately, I married a military man, so he is glad to kibutz. I also look to see what others with similar books have done–not to copy, but for ideas.

    I’ve heard good things from folks about Scrivener, but don’t have it myself. Really, I only use the corkboard option of Storylines, although there is a lot more available on the program.

    M Pax, I’ve never heard of chapter sheets with post it notes. Interesting idea! In my latest editing of Neeta Lyffe 2, I outlined an entire book by scene, with a little grid of what that scene did (zombie, romance, mystery…) It helped me see that a couple of scenes needed to be moved around for better effect.

    Pauline, thanks so much for hosting me today!

  • April 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    M Pax – We do what we must to capture out plots, don’t we? (Karina has had a death in her family, so that’s why she’s been MIA from the blog post.)

  • April 21, 2012 at 2:29 am

    I’ve done that with post-it’s on the wall & have done chapter sheets with colored post-it tabs on them.

  • April 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Welcome to my blog, Karina and congrats on the book release!

    @ Larissa – I just started a book using Scrivener and I’m really liking it so far! Its so nice to be able to glance over see what characters I have listed and if I describe them, go check or add details to their character sketches. (one thing I do to ramp up the ending is the Donald Maas method. Keep asking, how can I make this worse and keep doing that until you you can’t figure out how to fix things. Then I dial it back a little. LOL!) thanks for stopping by the blog tour!

  • April 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Hey Karina! I enjoyed your post. I’ve been using Scrivener which also has the corkboard. I write linearly, using a plot idea but then having the characters react to move the story forward. My biggest problem is the final showdown. The characters have gotten me there, but then I feel like I want more from than what they give me. Do you ever have that problem?

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