I know, discussing plot is old hat. There’s the endless comparison between the planners and the “pantsers”, and all the concerns about novel and story writing becoming more formula and less art.
And then there’s me. Not that I do things so differently from anyone else, and I’m concluding that I definitely don’t do them the “right” way, if there is one.
Let’s face it, the fun part of writing is actually writing. No real surprise there. I’ve always said that if someone else could just hand me a great story, I could write the crap out of it. 🙂 I have no lack of confidence for my ability to actually put words on paper. And when I know what I’m writing about, I find that at times I look back and even think, “wow, I like that.” Sometimes the words fall out of my fingers, arranging themselves on the page as if I were possessed by a writer with actual literary talent. Those are the best times. Getting those moments, hours or days are the reason why I write. I think it must be like the runner’s high. They say that once you pass mile six or so, you get an exhilarating rush akin to being on a drug high. I wouldn’t know; the furthest I’ve ever run was six miles. I could probably run further if there was a sundae on a slow moving cart in front of me to follow. But it might melt before I could pound out much more than six miles anyway.
The problem I have is that I will BELIEVE that I’ve outlined and planned, but I’m usually so excited to get started with something new, that I jump the gun. And things go swimmingly for a while. When I know what I’m writing about, I have found that I can easily write 4-5,000 words a day. So the act of actually writing is not my problem. I know writers who struggle with every sentence, rework constantly and get out maybe a thousand words on a good day. And that’s equally valid – maybe they have no problem plotting. We all have different strengths.
And it is time to address my real weakness, and that is plotting. I suffer from saggy middle syndrome, I believe. And I know that there are many plotting strategies out there. I’ve tried to snowflake, I’ve tried some other less iconic strategies. My problem — especially with snowflake — is that I get bored rewriting my own ideas over and over in different ways. By the time I’m at step four, I’ve gone through the thirteen stages of self-doubt and rather than fleshing out a decent idea to make it a good idea, I’ve beat it down so far that it now seems completely stupid and pathetic.
So I have a lot of half-started things on my desk. (Half-finished, for you optimists!)
And I realize that I need to focus. And that I need to jot down the new ideas, but not wrap my heart and soul around them immediately. Instead, I’m going to choose a plotting strategy and actually APPLY it to those things that are languishing, formerly loved and now forgotten like the Velveteen Rabbit, deep in my files. I’m going to sit down and PLOT. And focus. And seriously figure some stuff out. And I’m kind of excited about it (because my plan entails buying neat little notebooks), but mostly kind of dreading it (because, dammit, it’s hard).
Where do you turn for help with plotting? Does it come to you naturally or is there a strategy that you swear by? Curious how others defeat this particular dragon…