A Month of Plotting!This month the Noodlers will be noodling about plotting. And who better to start off talking about plotting than a writer who doesn’t plot!
Don’t worry--there will be plenty of published authors blogging about plotting later on in the weeks to come--talented, multi-published authors who actually know what they’re doing. But hey, I have finished seven novels and every single one of them has a beginning, a middle, and an end. So, even though I don’t write an outline or fill out character sheets before writing “chapter one,” I do brainstorm as I go along and I thought it would be fun for all of us to share how we get from the first chapter to the last.
Before I begin a story, I know both my heroine and hero’s goal and motivation. I also spend some time playing with characters’ names and finding the right research books. I love using Football for Dummies or Nutritionists for Dummies…whatever Dummy book will work, depending on what my characters do for a living, etc.
And then I start writing.
If I get stuck, usually around page 100, I brainstorm right there on the screen…everything that comes to mind. I don’t waste time making another file or jotting down notes on paper. I don’t want to stop the creative process. When I’m done brainstorming, I scroll back to where I left off in the scene and continue on with my story. Here’s an example that I pulled from my current WIP:
Derek can buy lots of baby stuff, swings, toys, etc. the next day he sets all the stuff up.
Go to first pediatrician appt. together. Art festival? Look up things to do in Los Angeles.
Jill comes to visit at the apartment. Need this to happen before they go to barbeque.Then it comes out what Sandy said and she can tell that he is afraid of leading her on.
Need to have a BARBEQUE! Meet his family.
Sandy will notice that Derek has a thing for Jill. Jane won’t think too much of it.
Jane goes to Derek’s place late at night when her baby is sick with a fever. He takes her to the emergency room and they talk and he is very sweet and helpful
Need to look up recipes. Have a theme each month for cooking magazine.
That’s it! This sort of brainstorming gets my creative juices flowing again. Sometimes I meet with a writer friend and we make long lists of possible events.
Knowing my character’s goals and motivations is what keeps my fingers clicking away. I know what my characters want…I know their goal(s) and their motivation for wanting it and that is the ultimate driving force of every book I write from beginning to end. This is what I think about every step of the way: What does my heroine want? How far will she go to get it? What does my hero want, and so on. Every scene should have a purpose, and how can a scene have a purpose if you don’t know what the characters want?
Many times I am writing a scene and suddenly the story comes to a halt. I used to worry for days about what might have gone wrong. But now I cut and paste the scene to another file and start the scene over. I no longer waste time angsting over what went wrong because 99% of the time, the problem is a) I wasn’t ready for that particular scene yet (i.e. too soon for h/h to kiss, or b) the scene was bad or boring or both and had to go. Either way, I no longer waste time over-analyzing. Starting a scene over usually does the trick and once again my fingers are tapping away at the keyboard and I feel happy again. (Note: never delete these scenes because you might be able to use them later.)
And that’s how I write a book from beginning to end. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? As most of you know, it’s not. And every time I start a new book I find myself wondering how I wrote the last one.
Now tell me your method of madness. How do you get from chapter one to The End? Do you start with names, setting, gmc? Do you write chapter one and then start typing?
On Tuesday and Thursday we will be brainstorming and the Noodlers would love to help! Give us a problem that you’re having with a scene and let’s brainstorm ideas of where you can go from there. All you need to do is give the basics of your story and where you’re stuck. Then we can all toss in ideas (crazy or not) of where the scene could go next. It’s quick, fun, easy, and it can’t hurt. Be ready to join in and brainstorm with the Noodlers on Thursday.
For the month of March, I will be putting a ticket with your name on it into a box every time you comment. If you comment five times in one day, then five tickets go into the box. On March 31st I will blindly reach into my box and pick a name. The winner will receive a $20 gift card to Borders!