Plotting

I…don’t even know how to start this post. Here are the things you need to know about where I am when I get to the point about what my writing state is:

1. I am done with costumes for a long while so I have writing time again.

2. I am determined to publish both my Christmas novel (finished and edited) and its as-yet-unwritten prequel novellette/novella (whichever it turns out to be) this fall.

3. One thing I took away from this round of cosplay is that I am much better at dedicating all spare time/energy to a project when it has a deadline.

4. I am incapable of writing blind; if I don’t know what happens next, I cannot write. I am a type A planner and an INTJ thinker who requires an understanding of the system (entire plot) in order to perform tasks within it (write individual scenes).

5.  I do not know what happens between the introduction scenes and the climax in this short.

We come at last, then, to the crux of the matter: I need to write this piece that is nowhere near a complete story in my head, in it entirety this month, so that I have time to polish it and prep it for publication during October and have both pieces up by early November.

The clock is ticking, and I have no idea what to write.

So I have spent time last night and today plotting. I don’t mean sitting there forcing a story to come about in a certain way, but my method is sure not organic, either, where I wait for my subconscious to work out the details and share them with me. No, I am laying out all the different possibilities for how the story plays out, trying to figure out which questions I can already answer and hoping those answers will eliminate enough of the options for other questions that those turn out to be answered, as well. I don’t know if you remember the “big angle problem” in geometry, where the teacher gives you a puzzle with like twenty lines crossing a circle and only one or two angles filled in, and you have to fill in the rest on your own, but plotting this way feels a little like that.

Phebin

 

It’s a series of if-then statements and evaluations of the story they create. Making one choice by necessity cuts off others. The answer to the question “Is he drawn to her the first time he sees her or not until later?” influences the question of “Where do they meet?” – or is it vice versa?

I am hoping that my intuition will take over the decision-making process, because if the story is nothing but a series of arbitrary decisions because, goddamnit, I had to put SOMETHING down on paper, then the story won’t be able to stand.

I normally enjoy this part of the story-writing process. Brainstorming. The problem is that I am anxious to get to work and the interactions of these characters are eluding me, and I have a deadline and so I cannot just put it to the side and wait for my muse to show up fashionably late to the party.

So. Is he drawn to her right away, or isn’t he?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Plotting

  1. ABE

    Yes – but one of them’s unsuitable for some reason. Which takes the rest of the story to fully sort out.

    Are you the kind of person who could tell the story to someone else? Obviously you had some idea, or you wouldn’t have gotten this far. If you ARE an oral storyteller, you could use a picture on your screen, a cooperative human (including babysitting victims), or a writing partner.

    I used someone I shared a hospital room with for a night – we were both bored, and she asked… It made me realize I really knew the story and wanted to finish writing it. I’ve never forgotten her eager face – unfortunatley, we lost track.

    • I think part of the problem is that I have never had a deadline like this, where it actually is real and matters, and so I’ve never had to run if-then statements for this much of the story. I have used that method to figure out which option worked and which didn’t on other stories, but it’s generally for either one choice or at most one mini-arc. Not…the whole damn thing. And between my ADD and the length of the if-then statements I am trying to run, I haven’t been able to finish a damn one of them. It’s frustrating.

      I have never considered myself an oral storyteller…it’s usually pretty awkward for me to try and explain more than an elevator pitch type summary something i am working on. But i am having dinner tonight with one of my best friends, and she is also a writer, so maybe I will try and see if I can at least pin down a couple plot points so my if-then statements get broken up into smaller strings….

      My pagan friends would say she was a goddess who decided to inspire you, and that’s why you lost touch. My Christian friends would say she was an angel who visited you for the same reason. If she was neither, then that is a shame, indeed, to have lost touch. One of my favorite writing advice lines is “As a writer, you never know who you’re going to touch, or how, or with what result”…but honestly I think that statement applies to being human. As evidenced by your listener. I bet she had no idea how much her enthusiasm meant to you. I hope she remembered your name to look for your writing.

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