Six Word Horror Saturday – Plotting or Planning? How To Plot A Novel The Six Word Way!

6 word horror

Something a little extra today. Last week as one of my six word horror stories, I offered:

The door shook. It wouldn’t hold.

I posted this to my facebook page and added the picture:

I asked if people had any other six word suggestions, and got several good ones, which I’ll share later. But what I got from an author friend of mine, Aaron Davids, was a reply that led, in turn, to a six word reply by me, which he once again replied in six words and before I knew it, we had the beginnings of a story, structured in six word sentences.

Here are the responses we got before it was time for bed:

Lock clicks, but I hear someone else.

Are they inside already? Behind me?

In the darkness, from behind me.

I hear it breathing. Real close.

I turn slowly, eyes closed tightly.

No weapons. It’s time to run.

My muscles burn with every step.

I’m not going to make it.

I see a door, it’s open.

I’m through. Lock it behind me.

I catch my breath, then bang!

The door shook. It wouldn’t hold.😀👍

Cracks formed, it began to warp.

Something’s coming through. Fight or run?

As the door shattered into pieces.

Run it is. Time to flee.

The voice speaks, making me freeze.

That’s as far as we got that evening! Whilst I’m sure it won’t win any awards and probably qualifies more as a scene than a story, it did give me ideas for future stories, more accurately, for the way I write them.

You can check out Aaron’s writing OVER ON HIS BLOG by clicking here.

Plotting Or Planning

I have always been a bit of a Plantser when it comes to writing. This cunningly devised word is a cross between ‘Plotter’ – someone who plans all the details of the story out beforehand – and a ‘Pantser’ – someone who prefers to write by the seat of their pants, meaning the story is written, starting out with only the vaguest of outlines, and is written with no preconceived ideas of where the story will go.

A ‘Plantser’ (not my word) is someone that sits between the two camps, neither one nor the other. I have always considered myself firmly in this category. I generally start out with an idea and also with some sort of conclusion. I will also look for a few key points along the way from start to finish, but how we get from Point A to Point B to Point C is up for grabs; we’ll see what comes out when I start writing.

I have predominantly been an author of short fiction, starting out with 1000 word stories, and over time expanding to 20K word novellas. When I sat down to write my first novel–length piece, I found that planning became a lot more necessary. I started with an outline for each chapter, trying to hit all the important marks in terms of plot points and associated 3 act structure key points. (check out THIS POST on story structure).

Which is what brings me back to my six word horror story and how it could help with planning your own story.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend restricting yourself to six word sentences, but try setting out your whole story in short sentences similar to the ones above. For a longer work, each sentence could cover a much bigger scene, hitting the major points I highlighted above. Then you can shuffle those scenes around as necessary, add or delete scenes as necessary.

An example from Star Wars: a New Hope

  • Evil Empire seeks rebel plans from princess.
  • Plans are smuggled out and find our hero (Luke).
  • Luke leaves planet with mentor (Ben) to find the rebellion.
  • They attempt to rescue the princess.
  • Ben is killed as they escape.
  • They devise a plan to destroy the Death Star, saving everyone.

If you want to take this a step further, you can then break down each of these scenes, by repeating this process. For example:

Luke leaves planet with Ben to find the rebellion.
* Luke discovers a hidden message in the droid
* Luke has to chase down the runaway droid
* Ben rescues Luke from the SandPeople
* Luke’s family are killed by Stormtroopers
* Ben and Luke find a smuggler who can help them get off the planet

That’s the bare-bones version, now it’s up to me to fill out each of those points. For a much more complete analysis of the plot structure of Star Wars and many other films, check out the Story Structure Database over on HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com

Once that’s done, you can begin expanding each sentence into a paragraph, then a page and so on. Before you know it, you’ll have a best-seller. Okay, not convinced on the last point, but at least you’ll have a structure to work with, satisfying the plotters out there, and you will be able to make your scenes play out any way you choose, satisfying the pansters amongst you!

Now I’ve finished writing this, I realise that this method is very similar (without the six word approach) to The Snowflake Method of writing a novel. I recommend you checking it out as an alternative way to plan and write your novel.

I’ll finish with a six wor story:

The Alarm Sounded. They were coming.

person thinking

My Question to you:

Plotting or Planning?

3 thoughts on “Six Word Horror Saturday – Plotting or Planning? How To Plot A Novel The Six Word Way!

  1. Thank you for posting that picture on Facebook. I really enjoyed coming up with the responses. Glad it has sparked an idea for you for a future project. Also thank you for sharing my blog. I have shared your blog on my blog page.

    Liked by 1 person

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