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Archive for 'writers club'



Monday, February 13th, 2017
Writers Club: Plotting

Plot is necessary for novels. This seems like a no-brainer. It’s the causal sequence of events in a book: This happened because this happened because this happened and so on. Events happen, problems, conflicts, and everything escalates until there’s a final conflict and resolution. Usually there is at least one secondary plotline, and often more. After all, most people have more than one thing going on in their lives.

Here’s the trouble, at least for me: I often have trouble developing the plot in advance. More often, my brain wants to see what happens as I go along. In some respects, I think this is because I’m out to entertain myself with my stories. I don’t want to know what happens in advance any more than my readers do. I want to discover as I go. I’ve a friend who calls the first draft the “discovery draft.”

The trouble with not knowing the plot is that you make a lot of wrong turns and go off to random spots, find hidden trails, and sometimes–even often–find treasures you never knew you were looking for. That makes writing exciting. It also makes it stressful. You always wonder where you might end up. Will the book make sense? Will it become a well-woven whole or will it be a mess of spaghetti dripping over the edge of the plate?

I would like to work with a plot outline. I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I used to be able to establish the major plot points that I wanted to hit on and then I could navigate toward those points, weaving in the secondary plot lines as I went. But my brain refuses to do that much anymore. I’ve been working on tricking myself and forcing out a plot outline. And of course, it always changes and is never correct. In fact I don’t really expect it to be, which ought to sound bizarre–I mean why do it at all? But having a sense of the path does help.  It frees my mind to play a little bit. Knowing that, I don’t know why I can’t just write down a possible plot direction. I’m such a weird contradictory mess in that regard. A plot outline frees me, but writing it feels like I’m fixing it permanently in place and my brain rebels.

In order to make myself do it, I focus on projects that I’m not planning to write right away. That takes the pressure off getting it done to try to get it written. It lets me play with the story in my head for awhile, and lets me be goofy with the possibilities. That last often gets me to where I want to be–an original plot line. I get acquainted with my characters, developing who they are until they feel real to me and have a voice and I know what they would and wouldn’t do, which of course leads to more adventures.

I wish the process didn’t have to be so messy, but it is and I just have to suck it up. So this is me, sucking it up. *dives back into the mess*

(crossposted from the BVC blog)

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017
Writers Club

I’ve been doing a series of posts over at the Bookview Cafe Blog. I’m going to start mirroring them over here. They come under the heading of Writers Club. These are the Rules. Or Guidelines. Or something. Anyhow, here you go:

 

I’m not saying that self-editing is bad. It’s not. It’s just we often do it while writing and that’s when it’s evil. Sometimes we do it when we aren’t aware and that’s when it’s really awful.

When I first started out writing, I wrote for me and me alone. I was trying to entertain myself and so I didn’t worry about whether this would be offensive or that would be sappy or if readers would hate my characters. None of that entered my mind because it was all about the fun of telling myself the story and getting lost in it.

Then I published. This was a dream come true. But that’s when the evil self-editor started sneaking in to my creative zone. I’d write something and then delete it because it was too something: too off-color, too disgusting, too violent, and so on. That limited me in ways that I stopped noticing. I internalized those limits and made them an unacknowledged part of my writing process. It’s like a house. You don’t pay attention to where walls are or light switches because they just exist and are necessary and you’re glad they’re there doing their job.

Only really, the self-editor at this point in the process is really a saboteur. It’s a swarm of termites eating away your writing in secret and you have no idea it’s even happening.

Recently I accidentally started a . . . something. Since it’s well-over 45K by this writing, I guess it’s a novel. It started as just a fun thing I wanted to write down. My main character–Beck–is obnoxious and says things that are not polite and yet are very funny to me. I found myself writing on it constantly and racking up big word counts. I’d stay up late. I write through obligations. I’d forget time. At some point, however, I realized that I was losing her voice because I’d begun self-editing. I began to worry about what readers might think or how they might respond. So I slowed down. I started thinking more and being more careful about how I was telling the story, rather than focusing on actually telling the story and entertaining myself.

Not so coincidentally, I slowed down. I didn’t feel like writing on it as much. It took me a few days to figure out why and I wanted to smack myself for doing it. The thing is, the self-editor is important. Finding and questioning the issues of your story is very important, but not until you’ve written and know what it is and what it needs. I also don’t think your words and story should necessarily change because a reader my object or feel a little annoyed. You have to decide what’s good for the story. You don’t have to throw glitter on the ugly or soften all the rough edges. You have to tell a good story with powerful, compelling characters that engage your readers and carry them on a fun ride from beginning to end.

Writers Club rule: Revel in the creative, and chase the editor off with a pitchfork. Hunt it down, put it in a mayonnaise jar with holes in the lid until you’re ready to let it chew through your manuscript.