Friday, October 22, 2010

The Great Wall Of Plot

Me - A total pantster with a Great Wall of Plot! Shocking, I know. 

I was working on the first chapter of Sex & Suplexes when I got to hear NYT Bestselling author Jeffrey Deaver speak at Killer Nashville. He explained that he does up to 200 page outlines before ever sitting down to do any actual writing. This is a man who's sold a whole buttload of books and constantly produces bestsellers on a yearly schedule. It obviously works for him, and he's where I want to be so I figured why not give this whole plotting thing a try?

Just to preface a little, I was about 30,000 words into Lip Gloss and Lollipops when I realized that Courtney and particularly Alex were taking over Tiffany, Trey and Brandon's story. So I decided to put them aside, pull out some of Alex's best stuff, and pick up where we left off at the end of Headlocks & Hexes. 

After being led 30,000 words into the middle of nowhere with the other story, I figured why not give this whole plotting thing a try. I sat down, or more liked walked around with Harry dog, while having several long talks with Courtney and Alex on how we were going to do this. Courtney's initial response was, "Just sit down and write Bitch." Alex just nodded in agreement, because well he's pussy whipped and whatever Courtney says goes.

It took a lot of deliberation to get Courtney to agree to the whole chapter by chapter index card breakdown. We started out with 19 cards. I am currently working on Chapter 6 and two more cards have been added. Along with a brand new character, Alex's mother Sunn. 

I got stuck on Chapter 3 and guess who showed up? None other than Billy Dalton. He wasn't supposed to get his own POV, but you know how Billy is. Or you will after reading Headlocks & Hexes. So far he's getting two chapters and I'm sure he's going to get more. I'[m justifying this because it's important to show Courtney from his POV since he's the guy she's obsessed over for so long. It is adding to the next book by showing his grief over losing Cassie through his own eyes. And who am I kidding? Billy is just plain fun to write. I LOVE Billy!

On each card I ask myself and of course my characters five basic questions to justify the chapter and advance the story:

Who? Fairly obvious, who's POV are we in. Who has the most at stake?

What? This details the major action.

When? Keeping my timeline straight on plot advancement.

Where? Location, location, location.

Why? Exactly why is this scene really necessary to advance my characters personal growth and plot development.

After the first draft of each chapter I go back with a Post It to remind myself what needs to be fixed. That way I keep plowing forward until we get to the last card.

Then what's going to happen? We'll find out when we get there. 

Courtney made me promise that this is only a loose guideline. She can change her mind at any time. There's no telling where she's actually going to take me. But at least this way I do have her reined in a little bit. I actually know all the major details before they get written. Now all I have to do is follow the index cards as I fill in the blanks to create Sex & Suplexes.

Oh and the Great Wall of Plot - I stole that title from a fellow MCRW member and multi-published author Beth Pattillo. She's a die-hard plotter and another inspiration for giving this whole plotting thing a whirl.