Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The plot thickens

I am not registered for NaNo, which is awful, mainly because I hate that something is going on and I'm not participating in it. But I know my limitations. When I write, I write fast. An average day for me is 2000-3000 words, so I wasn't worried about the word count. My main reason for not doing NaNo is that I am just starting on a new project and I haven't plotted it out yet. For me, that's like having a car and no road. I just can't write like I want to if I don't know where I'm going.

It is fascinating to me how different writers are when it comes to writing. I am in awe of those people that say "I just started with a sentence (or idea or character or line of dialog) and went from there." I just can't do that. I have to give myself an outline. I mull over the concept, work out the issues, develop the characters -- all in my head -- to start. And then I sit down and write a bare-bones chapter outline. This, of course, changes over the drafts. In THE SHADOW SCRIBE (currently out in query-land), I started with 13 chapters and by the fourth draft, had 24 chapters.  But I have to know the basic "This happens, then this, then this, and then finally this."

I have a book that I really like (for varying reasons) called 'The Weekend Novelist' by Robert Ray. It gives you a full plan for how to write a novel in a year. I didn't follow the plan. But I did find the chapters on plotting very interesting, particularly the bit on Aristotle's Incline. I'm not sure how I got through a college creative writing degree without ever hearing of it before, particularly as it is darn basic. If you haven't heard of it (which makes me feel a little better), it breaks the plot down into three acts and delineates the opening scene, plot point 1, midpoint, plot point 2, catharsis and wrap up. A very visual break down of a basic plot blue print. It just worked for me to think of it like that at the early stages.

Just do you develop your plot? Before you start? All in one go? As you go? Or are you a 'plot-what-plot-I-just-let-the-story-take-me' writer?