Monday, April 26, 2010

Trying to Get My Acts Together With the Weekend Novelist

Part I of The Weekend Novelist starts out talking about change. Ray says - "the writing world has changed but plotting stays the same." Plot is what happens in your story. It has a Beginning, a Middle and an End. It can be thought of as three acts. Our first assignment was to make a sketch for a linear plot.

I'm a pantser. Linear is not in my vocabulary. But I plunged ahead, determined to learn how to make plotting easier. I was relieved when Ray compared the exercise to building a bridge – the engineer starts with a sketch and it blossoms into a blueprint that charts the rest of the course. I know blueprints. I was a draftsperson in my previous life. I could do this. But things aren't that cut and dry in the literary world.

This is the skeleton sketch – a rising line that represents action rising to a climax. Next step - add character names, objects, weapons, landscape, and action verbs. Don't worry about being messy. It's part of the creative process. Start searching for the bones of a novel. I expected ideas to flower and a plot to take shape. It did, but it left me more confused than ever. I started with a bare bones idea for an urban fantasy that takes place in a city. I looked at that line for a long time, jotted down a few things and suddenly it didn't feel right. My heroine wasn't in a city, at least not one on Earth. I wavered, I crossed out, I rewrote. My sketch was unintelligible. Is it supposed to work this way? Maybe my heroine isn't on a linear quest. Maybe I should wait for next weekend – plotting on a curve. I'll let this percolate for a bit and fool with the above sketch again. Hopefully after next weekend I'll have my acts together.



Shayla Kersten said...

It all sounds too logical for me. LOL I'm a linear thinker as in can't bounce from chapter to chapter out of order. But plotting is something I'm not very good at. Of course, I write a lot of character driven novellas so plotting isn't as integral as if I were writing a mystery or suspense. When I write those, I have to plot. And the longer the story, the more I have to plot.

Hope the class works for you!


GPS said...

Thanks Shayla. I guess I'm a bouncer. I tend to go back and forth like the characters in Lost. lol

Rachel Lynne said...

I found DD and Elle's plotting course the easiest system for me but I still stumble through internal and external conflict. I have the hardest time thinking up stuff for that.
Right now I am having a hard time thinking up anything for a story though, :)

Riley Quinn said...

Gale, I had some trouble with this linear thing too. Of course, I'm not used to plotting like this. I generally flesh out my characters first and then go from there, but I want to give TWN a chance. We'll muddle through together.

GPS said...

I think that's my problem too. I always start with character. Then the hero and/or heroine tells me where to go from there. Glad we're in this together.