Saturday, October 24, 2009

Plodding Along and Plotting Away

Before I get into this week's topic, I want to take a moment to revel in this amazing online community of writers (YOU GUYS!) which I am now a part of.  As I stated in an earlier post, the only reason I started blogging was to keep myself on track throughout my novel rewriting process.  In essence, I was simply creating an online diary for myself, and a handful of friends and family generous enough to take a few moments out of their week to check in on it.  What I ended up with was a fantastic support system of fellow writers with intimate knowledge of the agony and ecstasy that is producing a work of fiction.  So consider this a shout-out to all you writer-bloggers out there - you help keep me going!

There ends the Hallmark card.  Now back to my weekly update.  I've been reading Flapper by Joshua Zeitz, and it has provided me with more detail about certain elements of life in the 1920s that Frederick Lewis Allen's book touched on.  As you can probably tell from the title, this book takes a close look at women in the '20s, but it also analyzes women of prior eras to give the reader something to compare these "modern" women to.  Once again, I'm finding my current reading is giving me inspiration for whole plotlines and characters.  Who knew non-fiction could be so much fun!

Oh, and here's a post-script on last week's little motivation meltdown.  I think I'm over the hump (at least for now.)  I implemented the dreaded edits, and am back to writing.  Plus I'm doing something which I find extremely helpful in laying the groundwork for my book - I'm plotting out upcoming chapters.  My husband actually suggested I do this before I started my rewrite, but at the time, I didn't want to constrain myself.  However, now that I've completed 7 chapters (about 17,000 words), I have a better idea where my rewrite is going.  When writing the first draft, I found chapter plotting extremely useful, especially once I was in the "home stretch" (about 10 chapters from the end of the book.)  

For me, writing consists of a delicate balance between following a road map and allowing myself to be open to my characters' wishes.  Any writer knows what I mean by that last comment.  At some point, your characters begin to find their distinctive voice and take on a life of their own.  You might plan for Bob and Sue to fall in love in Chapter 5, but in Chapter 3, you find Bob's eye wandering across the room to that cute new girl, and there's not a darned thing you as the writer can do about it! ;-)  I mean, I suppose you can try to steer him back to Sue, but it might seem forced and contrived ... something your reader is likely to pick up on.

FIGURING IT OUT AS I GO:  It's good to have a general plan as to where your book is going, and this will likely become more and more specific as your story unfolds.  However, don't be afraid to follow the natural flow of your characters' lives, which may require a dramatic change of plan along the way.


  1. I have let my characters write the first draft, having a general idea of course. However, I probably should have planned ahead for the ending because I am definitely figuring it out as I go and it gets less and less pretty. Congratulations on already being through seven chapters of your rewrite.

  2. Thanks, Jessie! Time (and further revisions) will tell whether these 7 chapters are any good or not ...

  3. Plotting is good. Usually when I start a book I brainstorm about 100 possible scenes then start piecing it together. Sometimes I let the characters have too much free rein and I have to bring them back on course.

  4. You guys are so disciplined! I guess that's why I've been editing for 2 years. That is a great idea, plotting out the story. I guess that I have a rough outline in my head, but as far as sitting down and plotting it out I have yet to do. I think that I need to give it a try!