Posts Tagged ‘plot’

Interrupting the Plot

Technical-ish post!

In case you haven’t read the ‘synopsis’ of my story, I am writing a sci-fi/fantasy/post-apocalyptic blend story.  I’m trying very hard as I write to follow a few of the traditional ‘quest’ archetypes while still maintaining believable characters and a unique setting.  I’ll admit that it’s harder than I thought it would be.

Now, I’ve read enough epic fantasy and science-fiction to know that there’s really only one good way to get from point A to point B in a quest novel (or series).  And that is to encounter as many interruptions, sidetracks, false trails and frustrating no-win scenarios as you possibly can before finally stumbling headfirst into the fiery lava chambers of Mount Doom.

My characters are not traipsing their way through Mordor quite yet, but I’ve discovered as I’m writing that I’m really a much meaner person than I’ve ever given myself credit for.  I mean, if I personally ran into the types of plot-problems and dead ends and such that I put my characters through, I would be lying on the fetal position whispering strange chants for hours on end by the end of chapter three.

But, I’m also finding that by throwing these characters into the types of challenges that I have been, two very important things start to happen. One, I have an actual story developing, which is pretty outstanding, and two, I’m learning more about my characters than I ever could have imagined.  Their reactions, their dialogue, everything is coming alive for me.  I feel like, by interrupting all of my characters’ plans, I’m finding out who they really are, which is going to be oh-so-helpful when it comes to rewrite time, because I will know exactly how they will react.   I will know what they will say and do in almost every situation.  They will become believable and I will be given all the credit.

Being a writer is awesome.

Things Are Happening

I’m really excited about two things today, but first, an admission.

I only wrote 1,700 words today.

But, David, I hear you protesting, that number is actually more than what you need every day to finish NaNoWriMo.  You would be absolutely correct.  And, if my goal was just one of cranking out a mere fifty thousand words and calling it a month, I’m sure I’d be happy with my result for the day.  But the truth is, I probably wouldn’t have gotten this far if that was my goal.

I had time today.  Work was slow, and there was little keeping me from my writing except for my own distraction.  I came up with many reasons why I wasn’t able to write.  I couldn’t focus, always expecting a call to ring in at any moment, but later in the day, I easily had 15 minutes between calls.  I could have done several 5-10 minute surges throughout the day, and probably added an extra two thousand words on top of what I got.

But, that didn’t happen, and I am where I am.

Of the writing I did finish though, I am very happy.  First, because I sat down to write, and I had no idea what to do.  Suddenly, I had this flash.  I wrote a 1000 word dream sequence that not only helped to move the story along, it helped me to flesh out some things I’m working on psychologically with my protagonist.  That was a big step for me, and I’m pumped about it.

The next thing I’m so happy about is this: things are actually happening in my book.  I felt for the first few chapters that I was doing a lot of set-up.  Set-up is important, too, believe me, when you’re introducing a new world and magic and strange technologies and trying to get your readers caught up on the history of the place while still leaving them scratching their heads enough to want to keep reading.  From a plot perspective, though, it’s sort of dull.  A few things happen here and there, but they are very static.  For the first time, now that I’m into the fifth chapter, I feel like I’ve got things moving along, and I’m hoping the carry on at a steady clip right through to the climax of the novel.

As I write, I notice things here and there that I want to improve, and I don’t just mean for this particular novel.  I feel like I have a very strong grasp of characterization and plotting.  I know how to write dialogue, and I can keep the story moving forward.  What I’m not so great at, though, is description and setting the right atmosphere.  I’m not taking notes, because I don’t want to give my inner editor any kind of foothold during my first draft, but I know that’s going to be an area of emphasis during my first rewrite and probably into my second.  I feel good that I recognize those as future steps in the process, though, because it helps me to visualize the entire journey from inception to completion of this novel.

I’m almost 50% ahead of schedule.  I should be at 10,000 words today, and I’m closing in on fifteen.  I might take an extra twenty minutes or so later today and just finish that up.