Last week it was my turn to write a post for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pen. http://sisterhoodofthetravelingpen.wordpress.com/ Plotting your book was my topic.
Now, the way I plot is to have a scene or character in my head, sit in front of a computer and let that scene play out on the monitor. I become the character and follow where they lead. Very soon after starting a new book, usually within the first draft of the first chapter, I have a general idea of where the story is going. This sometimes veers slightly as a character refuses my direction and goes off on her own, but within a few thousand words, the general plot is visible to me. After that, I start each chapter with a clear objective in mind and then follow the character.
As I write, the plot becomes more and more clear.
I think of the story as ice that forms slowly in my subconscious until one day it breaks off and floats into my conscious. I see only the tip, but the entire story is there. All I do is allow myself to see below the surface in order to get the tale on paper.
Of course, I go back and tighten the plot thread in the second draft. Tighten it again in the third draft. But all I have when I sit down and type that first word on the computer is a scene, an idea for a character, a vague image of a storyline.
It has come as somewhat of a surprise to me that this is NOT the way most author’s write.
Evidently, many people have actual plot boards and outlines and bar graphs.
To illustrate how differently we all write and to give you some guidance if you’re a writer who does actually plot a book before you write it, check out this post that was in my email this morning. http://frametale.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/ends-beginnings-and-a-grateful-business/
Look at the first sentence in the second paragraph of that post. “I begin my novel by making my spreadsheet.”
Here’s what I want you to take away from this post:
Each of us has a different writing process. Find yours. Try everything until you stumble on what works for you. Then write. Write everyday, even if all you have time for is to scribble a story idea on the back of a Walmart receipt. No writing is wasted. Everything you create will stay with you and, if it doesn’t fit in what you’re currently writing, it will find you again when you need it for the next book. Stop trying to get it perfect before you touch fingers to keyboard. You are a writer.