To plot or not to plot

After five years working on my epic YA fantasy (a new genre for me) I got into serious trouble with plotting. Plotting was much easier when I could rely on history, research, and interviews to fuel the key incidents. In a fantasy, I had to make it all up.
For help, I attended workshops lead by three Hollywood screenwriting gurus: Robert McKee, Chris Vogler, and John Truby. All were good, McKee’s rather expensive, and if I had to pick only one, it would be John Truby’s three day Masterclass which I attended this spring in New York.
I’ve respected his “The Anatomy of Story/22 Steps” since it was published in 2007. But it’s complicated.
In his Masterclass, which is small and personal,  it all became crystal clear because:
1) I could question how to apply his steps to characters and a plot I knew well (a plot I was ready to analyze and revise).
2) he illustrated his points brilliantly using dozens of 1 minute fllm clips.
Truly convinced me that it’s both time-saving and better story writing to follow (or at least respect) the organic steps of story development.
What makes it non-formulaic is when we play with the steps and beats, as needed, especially when mixing genres. In particular, I needed to connect my hero and her antagonist in a deeper way, through moral opposition and to treat her story line as a river that builds and bends as it encounters each new reveal,
everyone in service to her story line, especially the antagonist.

Posted in Writing