Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Plodding... I mean Plotting

Plotting. Outlining. Maybe it's not for me after all. I was doing well there for a while. I started off plotting Willa's inner journey, and Neil's. Hadn't gotten as far as Joseph's, although without thinking it through I sense what it will be.

Then I started trying to plot the story framework--those external events, story beats, plot turns, happenings, whatever you wanna call them, on which these inner journeys hang. Sigh. Brainstorming is not a strong point with me, obviously. Aside from the main story beats, I can't seem to force/squeeze/entice this stuff out of my brain so early on in the process.

See, how this writing thing works for me is, I write what I can see, what I know happens, what I'm sure about. That could be one scene, or ten, or half the book. Once that's skimmed off the top of the soup pot that is my brain and ladled onto the screen, then What Happens Next comes bubbling up from the bottom, often surprising the heck out of me by its shape and texture. Only then can I can grab it and add it to what's already on the table. But if I try to go fishing around in there I'm only going to pull out something half-baked. Or half-boiled. Whatever.

Not that this plotting experiment didn't help at all. It did. I got some good stuff written down in little boxes on a worksheet. But I've reached a point where I'm only frustrating myself trying to fill out charts and make lists with plot points I can't be sure of until I've lived with these characters for a while--that means writing them, discovering what they have to say and do and think--and continue my research.

I want to be an outliner. I really do. It seems like it would make this writing process so much faster if I could look on my outline and see what scene is up today, and tomorrow, and the day after that. But that isn't how my brain wants to work. So I'll finish reading through that workbook on finding your story, without filling in any more boxes. Then I'm going to spill out everything I know about the characters and this story into a messy sprawling synopsis.

Then we'll see.


  1. I have added a link to a free piece of writer's software on my blog post Fresh start and Freebies. It is great for keeping character information in a simple way. I found it valuable within 48hrs of realising I had forgotten my POV's age. I found it within seconds in the CHARACTER KEEPER. I am also using it for outlining my second novel now as it is so simple and more my style.
    Happy Scribbling

  2. I tend to write long narrative back stories for my main characters that lead up to the point the story opens. I also stash all there stats in there (eye color, build, posture, height, whatever you'd notice about them at a glance; how they carry themselves, any physical ticks). That's what I'm working on now in fact. And I use to create a visual. I like this better than finding a real world template.

    Character Keeper sounds interesting, Glynis. It helps you plot too?