Tag Archives: plot

Inciting Your Muse Blog Chain

Where do you write? How long do you write at a time? How many days a week do you write? Do you use a computer or write long hand? Do you take breaks? Any food or drink involved? Is social media off-limits or do you troll Facebook and email? Do you use music or demand quiet? Non-writers are always curious about the process.

Set23_01My boring details would disappoint people. I sit (somewhere) for extended periods of time (hours, days, months) seeking higher inspiration to get my character out of some corner I’ve written him into. Lightning strikes and in a blur of creativity and a flash of fingers, words appear on the page moving the character forward in his universe and fixing the problem.

My fickle muse has stepped in.

I will sit (somewhere) for extended periods of time (hours, days, months) seeking answers as my plot completely unravels on page 189. Just as despair sets in, my muse returns, and the plot coalesces into the complete masterpiece I designed it to be. (cough, cough)

I sit (somewhere) for extended periods of time…I think we get the idea here.

There is no magic to this writing gig. It is full of mental and emotional angst, before, during, and after the creation of the book. It doesn’t matter if you write in a perfect office with a writerly desk or in a mountain cabin or in the basement next to the kid’s bicycles. It doesn’t matter if you are able to write all day during the week and take your weekends off or if you work a day job and squeeze your writing in at 4 a.m.

None of it matters.

Process isn’t really what matters. What matters, what makes a difference at the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of the month, is the words on the page. The only way they get there is through hard work and determination. No rabbit in a hat. No magical elixir. No short cuts.

Although, chocolate never hurts…

Check out Leatrice here and Natasha at her new page. If you want to join in, put your link in the comments so we can enjoy your take on the “process”.

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Facing a Character Uprising: Whip and a Chair, Please.

I told her, "Ain't happening. Not doing that. Not now. Not ever."

I told her, “Ain’t happening. Not doing that. Not now. Not ever.”

We all recognize it. The signs are obvious. Our carefully mapped out story which we worked to meet the three arc story structure is not staying in line. And we all know whose fault it is. It’s not the hard-working writer. No. It is always a cantankerous character determined to forge his own path. How dare he! So we attempt to woo him into line, to no avail of course.

After a bit of head banging – ours not his – we look at our beautifully structured outline and realize the inevitable. This is not truly our story. It may have started in our hands, and we may have molded its beginnings, but the minute the protagonist entered and began relating to other characters we relinquished a degree of control. We still control syntax and diction. We have a say over format and structure. Those chapters and scenes are still somewhat within our purview, but try to tell your character how things will go for the rest of his story and see how quickly he stops talking to you.

Wrestling your character to force him into line with your original vision is a bit like wrangling an alligator. You either wind up an hors d’ oeuvre or you own a pretty but lifeless pair of shoes. It’s always best when a character steps up to the plate and takes over to let them have the wheel. You can step in when you need to and rein in the parts you control but let the character tell his or her story. It is their journey, their path. In the end, we wouldn’t want anyone else telling our story, would we?

How do you handle character rebellions?

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Ripple, Pulse, Flow…

One of my critique buddies, Natasha Hanova, has started a blog chain on the ripple effect. The premise behind the blog chain is for you to write this question at the top of a post, link it back to the person whose blog you read it on, answer the question, and invite others (consider this your formal invitation) to participate. Last, post a link to participant(s) who link back to your blog to complete the chain. For this chain, Natasha asked the following question:

Has your manuscript (WIP or completed) experienced a ripple effect, where one change affected the manuscript from beginning to end? If so, how?

My YA novel is about a girl who discovers she’s genetically engineered. This news sends her on the run from good and bad guys alike with the help of lifelong friends, Toad and Mayo. As I wrote the first draft of the initial scene with Toad, he stunned me by  “rolling into the room” behind Ginny. It wasn’t something I thought about in advance or planned. The character told me he was in a chair. That one small detail caused ripples throughout the rest of the book and has ramifications in the next books as well.

Some were big, leading to ample questions for me like how could genetic engineering be used to help him and how might that impact Ginny’s mixed emotions about her status as a “freak”? Some were smaller, happening within my world building, such as a ramp that her dad built on his back deck for ease of access since Toad was there…a lot. The one simple detail enriched both the character of Toad but also impacted his relationships with Ginny and Mayo, his history (how and when did he end up in a chair?), and complicated his ability to help Mayo rescue their best friend.

Ripples are amazing. They continue to pay dividends long after that initial cause. Check out Writes by Moonlight’s blog on Ripples.

I’m interested in hearing whether you’ve experienced the ripple effect in your work and if so, how? If you decide to participate in this blog chain, please let me know so I can include a link. If you just want to leave your comments below, that works for me, too.

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