I’m trying something new with my writing right now. On some of my projects—a few of the incomplete ones—I’m seeing how well I can write scenes directly from plot points.

Generally, my new habit has been to plot point things out as well as possible from the beginning or the point where I stopped. Then from those plot points, I extrapolate an outline. Frequently, I’ll write from the outline as I create it, up to 15-20 cards, then outline one for every scene written. I’ve discussed this method before, I believe. It seems to work fairly well for me, especially with projects where I’ve hit a wall I haven’t been able to work past before I do the plot points on them.

So instead of that, I’ve recently been putting down plot points to write from directly. This is a bit different than using the plot points to extrapolate plot cards. For one thing, the plot points offer a broader “view” of the wip. To keep myself from being overwhelmed with this method, I’ve been plot-pointing the next string of 4-8 scenes. Much more beyond 8, and I start getting overwhelmed.

I may have four plot points, but the scenes they encompass may come out to more. Instead of offering me the detail the outline does, the plot points provide me with a general picture of the scenes they describe, leaving things wide open for my interpretation of the plot points. With an outline, I’m “restricted” to what I have written on the card, and it’s frequently quite detailed, sometimes including dialogue. With writing from plot points alone, I don’t have that level of detail. It may be in my mind, but it’s not something I focus on until I reach that particular bit in my writing.

It’s a much more flexible style of planning out a work than the outline is. One thing I like about it is that I don’t have to plot-point out an entire story before starting on the outline. Though I now have Scapple, a brainstorming/plotting program by the makers of Scrivener, I still tend to use it as I used to plot point things out in Scrivener: by plotting scenes out of order.

In writing, I’m a linear thinker. While getting plot points or even plot cards out of my head out-of-order is possible, the resultant mess always drives up my anxiety and slows me down because I don’t want to deal with the cleanup necessary. With my writing-from-plot-points experiment, I’ve been plotting out the next number of scenes in order, then writing from the plot points until I have no more to extrapolate from. Then I write up more plot points, write from them, and so on.

So far, on the projects I have this new method running, things are going fairly well. I’ve been able to move past the blocks I’ve had on them and make progress. I feel comfortable with this method—in some ways more comfortable than plotting, outlining, and then writing makes me feel, but I’ll be continuing with that method on new projects, especially since the Scapple program makes it so easy to reorganize my messy plot points into a linear “picture” of the plot I intend for the story.