home •  y.a. series •  other books • bio •  events & reviews •  contact •   links & extras

Monday, July 20, 2009

To Plot or Not to Plot

I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing process lately. I’m about halfway through my third novel, and it confirms everything I’ve read about writing books. Each book is unique, and therefore, the process of writing each is wildly different. And contrary to logic, this third one is proving to be my toughest.

One of the aspects I’m struggling with is plot. Now, there are some master plotters out there, writers who introduce the conflict on page 1, then zip through a series of complications, near misses, and well-timed twists, leaving you nearly breathless by the end. I have never been this kind of writer, preferring to let my plots evolve organically, to let my characters dictate the sequence of events. My first book (Time and Tide, which did not get published) was based loosely on a novel by Jane Austen (talk about a good plotter), so I didn’t have much to worry about there. My plot came practically ready-made.

For Free to a Good Home (which releases next summer), I had the initial concept and characters and wrote the first fifty pages in a blur of inspiration or something like that, then sat back for a while to let the characters marinate and see where they wanted to take the story. This marinating stage is the point at which I still might abandon a story, even if I love the characters, because I can’t seem to find a compelling journey to send them on. But with Free to a Good Home, I found that journey.

Now, I’m midway through Book #3, past the point of no return, but at the point I’d like to call the Wednesday of the book, or hump day. I’m stuck. For the past week, I’ve written every day, but I have a feeling when I go back to revise later, I will end up deleting much of what I wrote. I just felt I needed to keep pushing through the wall, keep my characters moving. Now the question is, are they going anywhere?

Someone once said, when you get stuck like this, send in a man with a gun. Great advice for a mystery writer, but not so great when you’re writing a character-driven novel about three generations living under one very small roof. But I do like the idea of shaking things up a bit. Sometimes I think I’m afraid of too much conflict, but what is a novel without it? An unexpected twist could be the very thing I need right now to untie the knot that’s been keeping my characters treading water. Now I just need to find my story’s equivalent of a man with a gun. And hope that one of my characters knows karate.

No comments: