Monday, October 3, 2011

The Plot Thickens!

OK, first of all, sorry for that last one, the post last week on dialogue. What a pedantic pile of crap. The point was good. I just wish I hadn't sounded like a horse's ass while writing it.

Now, on to better stuff. I'm starting to hit my stride with "Scurvy Dogs." I'm in the plotting-it-out stage. That's what I did with "Chance" and "Chrissie Warren," and for me it worked. If I'm driving cross country, I'm gonna bring a map so I know more or less where I'm going. I don't have to stay on that road – I can take scenic detours and short cuts as the mood strikes, but I want a feel for how I'm going to get to the end of the journey.

Similarly, when I write – especially when I wrote "Chance" – my plot outline is, as Barbossa says of the code in "Pirates of the Caribbean," "more like a guideline." It was a rare week that I didn't go into the plot and amend it as the story took unexpected twists and the characters insisted on doing things I never expected them to. That necessitated either figuring out how the story could eventually get back on the map, or were it would go instead. The point is to not become so attached to the plot outline that you don't give the characters free rein to ignore your best laid plans, if that's what they insist on doing.

So anyway, I spent the last week working on the plot for "Scurvy Dogs." Started a little slow – I knew generally what the story is going to be, but hadn't really thought about the details, all the things that happen along the way to give it depth and texture.

And then all of a sudden, it started happening. I'd be driving somewhere or washing dishes and suddenly something will occur to me – "Of course! Buck has some land that he'll lose if he can't come up with cash!" or "Of course! Jamie is being taught by his uncle!"

It always feel like "Of course." It's a great feeling. Sometimes you don't even realize what was troubling you, or that something was troubling you, and from out of nowhere, when you weren't even thinking about it, there comes an answer, sometimes an answer to a question you hadn't gotten around to asking yet, but as soon as the thought occurs you realizes it solves a problem. They won't all pay off. I've got a note about deus ex machina that I'm pretty sure will seem too contrived when I get to the writing. But I write it all down and see if it can fit somewhere.

As the ideas occur, I dash off a note to myself and later work it into the plot which is growing excitingly now. I'm almost ready to start writing in earnest and looking forward to it. Because the "Of course moments" feel great, but they're nothing compared to the "Ahas!" that come when writing.

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