Sunday, June 25, 2006

More on Plotting....

"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one." - Charles Horton Cooley

Paperback Writer had an interesting post on plotting yesterday. I found myself sitting at the keyboard sounding like Meg Ryan's character in "When Harry Met Sally"... I'd read a bit and "YES" and more and "YES,YES" then "YES, YES, YES...!!" My husband probably wondered just what was going on down in the basement.

I think that some people who don't plot think of plotting as linear thinking. Um, no. At least not for me. I started with my main character (my first PBW YES!), well actually I started with an ambiguous idea because I was feeling a little snarky about people saying category romances were cookie cutter and I decided that I had to write a Secret Baby Cowboy book but then I started with the main character.

Oddly, I ended up writing her in a prompt from my writing group -- twice -- to get a feel for her, and in one of the prompts she found out that her mother had been murdered (!). And I thought, "I didn't know this was a murder mystery.", but went with it. After I got to know her, and did a lengthy character profile of her, I created both her nemesis (and discovered why her baby was "secret") and her hero. And I had to make something big to keep her and the hero apart, so I did. And then did backstory and characterizations on those two folks.

These characterizations led to a multitude of scene ideas that will be in different spots in the book.

Then I thought about the crime, why it happened and whodunnit.

More scenes.

And the H/H and the Antag's Internal Conflicts.

More scenes.

Then Maass's "Plot Layers" (I love Maass, I really do).

More scenes.

And then Elizabeth George's ideas on "surprise".

Even more scenes!

I wrote the scene ideas down on index cards and put them away. They are in no particular order, and some may not even work for the book, but I just let myself imagine things. I "what if'd" the book to death.

And now the book is quite well plotted. What I didn't do was sit down and say, "The book starts thusly, and then they do this thing, and then this happens." That would never have worked. But letting imagination fly free while doing different exercises worked wonders. Now I can take out my scene cards and see about putting them in an order that makes sense, see what things might be missing and then...


And all the while, I'll know exactly where I'm heading. It's as though I printed off the driving directions from Mapquest. I may see something interesting that's off the path while en route, but even if I take a short side trip I'll still get to my destination.

Some people say plotting makes writing boring. I disagree. It's taken much of the stress out of writing and just leaves me with excitement.

Tomorrow I'll try to find something else to talk about. Really. But I've been so focused on this, and so happy doing it, that I can't help it. It's just bubbling over.


Charity said...

I think that some people who don't plot think of plotting as linear thinking.

Oh, this is IT exactly. There is absolutely nothing linear about plotting. And I think that’s where the anti-plot brigade gets tripped up. It’s not a term paper. You don’t have to start at the beginning and go lockstep through the terrain until the end. Actually, I never write linearly. Not non-fiction pieces, not even technical documentation.

And it’s so good to hear you so excited about this. I’d say, “welcome to the dark side,” except it’s so not. ;-)

Ceri said...

Plotting always seemed so laborious to me, but you make it sound as exciting and fulfilling as the actual writing itself. I can't wait to roll my sleeves up and take a look at all this and apply it to my wip(s).

I always learn something from your blogs!! Thanks!

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