Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Plotter FAIL!


I generally consider myself a plotter. I don't start writing until I have a beginning-to-end outline that sketches all of the major steps in all of the plots and how they intertwine. Usually I have a good idea what the minor steps are, too.

For Disciple, those plots include: the background action (a war the kingdom is fighting), which my MC might or might not be able to directly affect; my MC's personal progress along two tracks (developing her magical powers and the romance arc); and the progress of the two co-MCs along those same tracks (their part in the war, their own magical development, and their involvement in the romance arc). There are a few secondary characters who warrant mention in the master outline too.

It sounds like a lot when you lay it out that way, but when you braid them together they take up less space... mentally, anyway. And honestly, I need to outline all that because I'm a flake at heart. My characters are constantly distracting me by goofing around, charging off on tangents and mugging for the camera.

From my master outline, I write more outlines on a scene by scene basis. These aren't formal things, they're more like sequential notes: here's where we start, point A, point B, here's where we end. Notes on what people want, what the conflicts are, any important points about the setting and who is there, If a conversation is especially important/complicated, I might have the dialogue sketched.

Scene outlines get shuffled all the time, sometimes on the fly as I'm writing the scene because the characters decide to take a slightly different tack. No big deal. I roll with it.

But I don't usually get to a point, look at the next major point in the master outline and think "Oh crap -- how am I going to do that?"

A little shift here, a little shift there, and eventually the pieces are simply out of place for the next major event in the siege to create the situation in which a very important conversation was supposed to happen. And we've got to have that important conversation before the third (and final, since three is a magic number) disaster so that the right emotions are in play.

So I buckled down for some brainstorming, which meant finding an appropriate soundtrack and juggling chainsaws for a while. I think I've got a reasonable bridge from the second major military disaster to the third, and I'd like to thank Celldweller for being such a reliable inducer of testosterone poisoning.

This playlist induced a lot of snippets of violence: brutal sword fights, cavalry charges down narrow streets, bloody-clawed monsters, trebuchets cranking off shots, stone walls exploding... good times. 

Caution: there's some loud dubstep in here.


2 comments:

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I think plotting is an essential step in making a book as it takes too much work otherwise to bring a successful close to a novel.

L. said...

I agree -- if pantsing works for someone, that's great, but to me? It sounds like an awful lot of work!

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