So of course, having given myself permission not to prep, I did stuff. Mum would be proud*.
I’ve deepened my plot sketch by a level. What does that mean? Since I’d rather blog than prep, I’ll explain!
I always start off with a list of vague points for each story section/chapter. Before I even begin the outline, I will know the beginning and the end I want to achieve**. Knowing the ending means I can throw all the necessary bits inbetween. So I come up with a quick outline, or plot sketch. Here’s a sample:
- the main character does something
- all hell breaks loose
- MC runs away
- running away doesn’t help
- MC confronts danger
- MC gets ass kicked, but figures out what’s going on
- MC escapes danger, gathers resources & goes back
- MC kicks ass, end goal is achieved!
This would be my primary plot outline; a quickly dashed off set of notes. Lots of people leave it at that, for more spontaneity. Hahahaha. I’ve tried that; not fun, and I ended up using precious writing time during nano to beef up my outline.
Knowing I need more, I go a bit deeper. I do this by asking myself questions like, ‘what exactly did the MC do to cause chaos in the first place?’. If I don’t have a clue, I’ll start at the end point. ‘How does MC kick ass?’ ‘What is the end goal?’ and work backwards.
Once I have a slightly more detailed outline, I leave it alone. Any more fiddling, and I could lose interest in writing the story. Too much outlining can feel like I’ve written the dammed story already, and I actually want to get this sucker done! Also, by letting it simmer, I can give it a quick look later, and see if it still resonates for me; if something sticks out as a bad fit, I can fix it then.
This year’s plot, being an older nano I want to finish, is fairly easy; I already know the ending, most of the middle bits and have a very clear idea of where I’m starting because I did the basic plotting (and a huge chunk of the writing) in 2008.
Of course, going into the deeper level after all these years has added new elements. I’m not the same writer I was back then*** and I have an altered vision of how the ending will occur. I want the same general results, but with a different perspective.
*Well, probably not. She’s still stuck on the ‘real writers publish’ thing. Meh.
**Me writing without knowing this ends in disaster. And by disaster, I mean pages of the MC drinking coffee while I describe what she sees out the window, because I have no idea where to go. I’ve learnt that if I don’t know how the story ends, I should pick a different story to write; it saves me lots of headaches and allows incomplete ideas more time to form.
***And I thank the universe for that! Nothing against 2008 Me, but she sure had a lot to learn.