Thursday, 28 October 2010

Remember, Remember


Approaching as we are, November 5th, my mind has turned to plots.

Not to blow up parliament you understand...though now I come to think of it...rather the plot of my next book.

You might remember from my last post that I have rather ill-advisedly agreed to sub book five by next Easter. Thus, instead of doing the naked author's dance when I signed off on book four and looking forward to a hard earned rest, I was forced to turn immedaitely to the next project and make some important decisions.

First, I settled on a structure. When I say settled, what I really mean is I dithered and tortured myself to distraction until I imposed a deadline. At that point I simply went with the structure I had on the table and refused to change. A bit like pass the parcel when the music stops. Only without the bite sized Milky Way in the middle.

I suspect Salman Rushdie doesn't use this method.

Hey ho, with my structure in the bag, I moved to my plot.

What was actually going to happen in this book of mine?

I know a lot of writers just get started and let the characters find out for themselves what happens. I read of authors being startled by twists and turns that unveil themselves like delightful belly dancers. Sadly, for me, it doesn't work like this. I find my dancers stubborn, fat and unengaging if I don't actively tell them not to be. Left to their own devices they won't find murders to solve or long lost lovers to bed. No, they will have a bit of a natter and go down the pub for a half.

So, I've been planning.

For me, this means many many bits of paper. Al Gore would not be pleased.

I literally take a seperate sheet of paper for each scene. I number each one. Then I write on it the salient points. Most important being whose POV the scene is from, where the scene is set, what happens and how the scene moves the story on. I'll include any interesting detail that I can already picture, or a snipet of dialogue.

Sometimes I fill the whole page and when I come to writing the thing, it will be little more than a typing exercise. Sometimes the page will be utterly blank. I instinctively know something is needed, but am buggared if I know what it is. Perhaps, I'll write an encouraging note to myself. Something like...FFS.

So, I hear you cry, how is the current plan coming along?

Wellllllll.........I'd be lying if I said I was there. That there wasn't work still to do.

So I'm setting another deadline. By close of play today, I will finish my plan. The music will stop and whatever I have on those scraps of paper will be the basis of book five.

Maybe I'll start a new trend. Writing as a children's party game.

8 comments:

Anita Davison said...

As someone whose characters grab every excuse they can to 'go down the pub' unless I meticulously plot their every move - I sympathise. When the muse disappears I revert to the plan - my list of 'Scenes' which tell me what the characters must do next so I can keep them - and me - focused. Good luck with the next project.

Caroline Green said...

Cor, well I'm quite impressed at your method....and LOL at your relcalitrant characters!

I love hear how other writers work...

Rosalind Adam said...

This sound extremely well organised. My characters are a little more dominant but I'm sure that if one of your characters surprised you with an unexpected twist, there'd be enough room on your 'scene sheets' to accommodate it.

Helen Black said...

Why thank you Dissertation Writing Service - your kind words mean a lot.
HB x

Ann said...

Sounds like a good writing plan to me. I am very impressed with your organization. I tend to be a bit spacey when it comes to planning. I am writing a story right now and have no clue where it is going and that is driving me crazy.

Caroline Green said...

I deleted that spam message before seeing Helen's reply! Just in case anyone is now going, 'Eh?'

Geraldine Ryan said...

I want to know what Dissertation Writing Service advised.

This sounds great, Helen. So workmanlike and to the point. None of this fannying about waiting for the Muse to strike. Good luck!

Debs Riccio said...

Like pin the Tail to the Donkey? Have you tried the Graham Norton Method (he did this once to an actor-guest on his show and we sometimes play it when we're bored... four cups full of 1.character names 2.occupations 3.flaws 4.ambitions. Shake, shut eyes and select randomly (oh, and drink quite a lot at the same time).