The Panty Drawer – Designing Principle – The In-Betweener Speaks Out

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 11.00.21 AMAlrighty, now that contest season is settling down, I can finally post the Nikki Roberti‘s interesting take on Designing Principle. If you haven’t met Nikki yet, trust me, you will. 😉 Nikki is a professional journalist and marketer, playwright, librettist, and…oh, a young adult author represented by Carrie Howland of the Donadio & Olson Literary Agency.

So I’ll just let Nikki speak for herself, eh? Enjoy!

1.) What’s your writing panty style

(a) Granny (you’ll pry my Beat Sheet out of my cold, dead hands)

(b) High-cut brief (I like a lot of structure and outlining, but I need a little room to wiggle)

(c) Bikini (I like enough structure to get me going, but I need a lot more free skin to show)wolfthong

(d) Thong (I might jot a few ideas down, but I mostly bare-bum my way through writing)

(e) Commando (I write nekkid as a wee babby.)

Yup, thong is definitely my spirit animal (err…spirit panty?). Usually when I have an idea, I write until I realize where I’m going. After that point, I’ll make an out-of-order checklist of things that need to happen before the end and cross those off as I go. However, I’ve been slowly drifting closer and closer to being more structured (I actually wrote a tentative to-do list BEFORE chapter 2 this time. That’s new), but honestly, too much structure makes me nervous and paralyzed with fear.

2.) Have you ever used a Designing Principle before or was this your very first time? 

This was totally my first time even hearing about this concept. I mean, I knew people plotted, but I had no idea people were this in depth with their books. I’m a bit in awe right now and feeling rather exposed in my teeny weeny thong.

bigfishlittlefish3.) Was it good for you? Be descriptive, baby!

Honestly, this overwhelmed me completely and made me feel super inferior. But once I got over my blinding “AHHHHHHHH WHAT AM I LOOOKING AT AHHHHHHH” moment, I was able to see some real merit–especially when exploring my main character’s mental state and how it impacts the narrative. A lot of my characters either are going through a traumatic situation or have some kind of deep personal issue that they’re struggling with and they all handle them differently. I love the idea of really digging deep down to have the overall theme and intended feeling as a massive presence from the beginning.

However, I don’t know if I can do it…or want to do it. As I write, I get to know my characters and feel what they’re feeling as they’re feeling it. Sometimes I don’t know what the overall end result should be or what my character should realize, but as I’m writing, I uncover that truth with them.

Yes, this does also mean I have to do a lot of revisions because once that first draft is finished and my ultimate truth is realized, I do have to go back and weave certain things through the narrative to add the level of completeness and emotional impact I need. So, my way isn’t necessarily the best way by any means. It’s probably a lazy way in some people’s eyes and adds extra work, but right now, it works for me.

4.) Will you use it again?

Maybe one day I’ll have a better handle on this kind of method, and I’ll certainly try it on a new draft in the future…just maybe not tomorrow.

mindmap5.) Anything else to share about writing in general? Tips/tricks/things you wish someone had told you?

The greatest thing I ever learned that was my first step into trying to plot at least a little was outlining every single character’s desires & fears. Here’s the basic chart I use (there are longer ones out there, but this is all I can handle right now):






This concept was so eye opening to me, and in a lot of places, really helped me add a layer of humanity and authenticity to a character’s reactions to things and other people. I’d highly recommend doing this with your own characters. Even my agent has been like, “What is the source of so-and-so’s hate right now?” and having this chart has been SO helpful.

But above all else, do what works for you, be open to change, and never be afraid to learn new things.


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, Nikki! Next week, we’re taking a little Truby vacation and looking at character development issues. First up: the Secret! Shh!!! Stay tuned.

Categories Panty Drawer

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