Character Driven Plotting (which also works for pantsers!) | Kim Lambert

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RWA Academy Online One-on-One Course

Have you ever read a book where something happened, and it made you stop, and go ‘but that character would never have / couldn’t do…’? It leaves you feeling annoyed, and breaks you out of the story, doesn’t it?

Have you ever written yourself into that sort of corner? Where you would have to make your character do something ‘out of character’ or beyond their physical capabilities, to get them out of that corner?

If you said yes to any of that, then you’ve experienced the problems which get created when you don’t make sure that your characters drive your plot. But… what do I mean by ‘the characters drive the plot’?

Put as simply as possible – the hopes, fears, strengths, weaknesses, and actual capabilities of the characters provide you with the dramatic incidents which will happen in your story, to move that story forward.

Taking this approach (which involves using an easy, repeatable process) means that you will never end up in a ‘oh no, how will I get my main character out of this trap I’ve written them into’ moment, even if you’re a complete pantser – because you will have a collection of ideas on hand to use, and you will have done some thinking up front about your character’s abilities and personality. It’s not ‘another type of story structure’ or the like – this is more about what you learn from getting inside your characters’ heads… and how to apply that to incidents to insert in your plot.

So no matter the length of story you are writing, the genre you are writing in, or the story structure you prefer, using your characters to define and drive your plot elements will speed your writing up, and eliminate lots of frustrating moments.

When I first began to use this approach, it transformed my writing experience completely. No more writer’s block, no more massive revisions to fix giant plot holes – everything got so much easier. I’ve been using this approach for more than 50 books now, and it has never failed me – I can’t imagine doing things any other way now.

The most fantastic thing about it, for me at least, is that this approach means that my characters on the page are more ‘real’ and that readers engage with them more, because there are no moments of dissonance when they are reading, even though doing things this way also allows me to write very fast, with very little significant revision needed. That’s a big win for me, because my entire income comes from writing – so the more books I can produce, the more I can earn.

There is nothing more satisfying than seeing income roll in, from readers who email me to tell me how much they love my books, how much they love particular characters, and how ‘real’ and involving they find the lives of those characters.

If you would like to learn more about this approach, you can join my online one-on-one course, Character Driven Plotting (which also works for pantsers), which is now available at the RWA Academy.

Course Dates: Monthly start Feb-Sept 2021 (excluding Aug)

Duration: Up to 3 months

Cost: $165 members, $198 non-members

Venue: Online – RWA Moodle Platform and Zoom chats

For more information and bookings: 

Presenter Bio: 

Author and Presenter Kim Lambert

Kim (who writes regency as Arietta Richmond – more than 40 books so far, and has two other fiction pen names, in other genres) has published more than 100 books, most her own, but also some non fiction for Australian business people, and also does editing, formatting and cover creation for others as a business. She also provides mentoring services for those who wish to have detailed one on one support on launching themselves into publishing. Both her non fiction books on writing, and her regency fiction books have won awards.

She believes that it is possible for anyone to succeed with writing – but that to do so involves finding the tools and methodologies which align with how you, as an individual, think.

The Character Driven Plotting course is a result of that belief – it is one of a series of courses, each focussing on one narrow aspect of writing, and dealing with new approaches, to help writers get ‘unstuck’ in the writing process.

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