Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Plotting and Character

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I always hit this seasonal writer’s block about this time of year. This is the first year I’ve been in the middle of a draft, so it’s more than frustrating. Just over 50K complete in my para romance and it’s dead in the water.

So, to pass the time, and hopefully stir up those creative juices, I’m taking a couple plotting workshops. YES, this pantser has decided it’s time to shift gears. I don’t know how in depth I’ll end up getting with it. I used Blake Snyder’s beatsheet for a while and that seemed to work, but even then I ended up with some issues. A beatsheet doesn’t solve world-building or an absentee antagonist. I’m guilty of both. I get so caught up in my heroine’s struggles I forget about everybody else. Writing Doppelganger was a piece of cake—everyone, including my antagonist, had to be front and center at all times. I think that’s when I first realized how important that is.
I’m not saying the antagonist has to be visible 100% of the time, but my problem was I’d introduce them…sort of mention them a few times…then suddenly we’re at the big showdown. His motivations would be weak and he’d be a ghost throughout. That’s just not good enough. I know that now.
A novel can’t just be about the heroine. This was the toughest lesson I had to learn, because what drives the hero and antagonist effects, and may even be a source of conflict for, the heroine. Their gmc’s are just as important as the heroine’s. And knowing them beforehand is mucho importante.
I’m in the middle of 2 plotting workshops that come from very different ideas. One is character driven. While this is definitely more for the pantser, the big thing is about knowing your character. To know your character, you have to know their gmc’s.
The other workshop is about using theme to drive the plot—this one I’m having a really hard time with. The muse is fighting this every step of the way because themes are a very foreign creature to me. BUT, again, knowing gmc’s for every main character is key.
Rock Your Plot: A Simple System for Plotting Your Novel (Rock Your Writing)I highly recommend this book for anyone who’s been doing this a while. Newbie’s may struggle with the terminology as I felt it was written for writer’s already pretty much in the know. It’s quick and witty and I definitely had some A-ha! moments about characters as well as plot points. Using this, I had gmc’s for every character and plotted Doppelganger’s entire sequel in a day. Is the plot perfect at this point? No, but you know what? It’s something solid compared to the few jumbled thoughts floating around in my brain. And I’m damn proud of what turned up on the page.
The pic is linked to Amazon if you’re interested. Can’t beat $2.99, people. Cathy is actually the woman who helped me piece together Doppelganger’s submission package and I think she’s incredibly awesome. (She has another class coming up on November 1…Submissions That Sell.)
Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes and Heroines: Sixteen Master ArchetypesThis is another book I’d recommend. (Pic linked to B&N.) I found this incredibly useful in putting together character worksheets. The things I knew about my character when it was all done astounded me. I knew her like I knew myself. I knew internal and external scars, history…you name it, I knew it. I knew her personality and how to drive it. THIS goes far deeper into a character than just a few gmc’s.
Okay, I’m done rambling. Go forth and write something fantastic. Winking smile 

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