November 8, 2010

Seeing the connections

(I finished my morning's work of editing and may go back and write a new scene this afternoon.  This was for the book of short stories.  It's called, "Ink".  Sounded good.  I'm pleased with it.)

If you're trying to move your idea onto the page and write a novel or a short story, and have had problems getting yourself to actually write the darned thing, perhaps this will help.

There are movie makers like Alfred Hitchcock, who go into a project already knowing everything about every single scene.  He literally saw each frame of his movies before he made them.  Similarly, there are writers who do this with their works of fiction.  They know everything, going in.  However, I suspect this type of writer is rare.

Coming up with a plot that works is a mental exercise. But for most of us, it's an ongoing process that occurs during the writing of the book.  In other words, we don't know everything before we dive in.  I've read a lot of fiction writers' blogs, and some wing it all the way, while some try to figure it out beforehand and then aim for that design.  How you do this is up to you.

In my third book, Xmas Carol, the one that's out to readers now, every single thing I brought into in the book comes together at the end to provide a bang-up climax.  I tied up every loose end.  But did I know about all that when I began?  No.

The thing is, as you become intimately involved with the plot, and you spend time writing the book and thinking in your off-hours about the characters and situations -- you begin to see connections.  That's the magic of plotting: the connections.

They arise naturally from the story.  A capability in one character comes into the story when it interacts with another character's beliefs or activities (or whatever).  It's natural that these things come together, and by letting the story live in your head, and visiting it every day, these things become apparent to you.

It's in our nature.  We see things in other people, right?  We see how things develop and we suspect this or that will happen.  Same thing with a book.  You come to know your characters so intimately that the action in the book arises from this knowledge.  Of course they do this or that; it's their nature.

More and more, these connections become apparent and you work them into the story.  But you'll never notice the connections unless you spend time thinking about your plot.  Be with it, come to know it, spend all your off-hours with it -- come to live it.  If you do, you will see the connections in your story, and amazing things will happen.

There are times when I'm in the middle of writing a book and I'll be, for instance, with people in a room, and I'll leave to get a cup of coffee or something.  When I return to the group, I realize I've been in my worlds during that trip.  I actually go into my fictional world, as if I'm a character who lives there!  It's so wild.  It's like multi-tasking reality.  You live in one world and then when you start writing, you live in two.  It's so refreshing.  I find that jumping from one world to the other gives me energy to apply in either world.

It's an all-encompassing thing.  Let your story possess you.  Think about it all the time and the connections will become apparent to you.  Connections = plot.  It's that simple.

No comments: