Thickening the plot

Bit by bit, the story of Book 3 is continuing to take shape. I don’t know how it works for other writers, but I start off with a broad sweep of plot in my head. It has a start point and an end point, with maybe a set-piece scene or two already in mind. From there, it’s an iterative process, one that starts with a fairly fuzzy wide shot, then gradually zooms in on each element of the story in turn. Each iteration sharpens the picture a bit more… but not before it has thrown up some problems, of course!

In fact, I find that plotting a novel is essentially a problem-solving process. That’s fine by me; I like that sort of thing. Some of these problems are technical ones that can be solved by research. They’re the easy ones! That leaves the tricky ones – what motivates the characters to move through the plot? How do they react to each event? What do they know, what can they work out and what decisions do they then make?

Which is all a way of saying that the characters end up driving a lot of what happens. And yes, that really can mean that the story will take a turn I had not originally intended! The number of times I have found myself saying “No, they would NEVER do that… they would do THIS…” and off the narrative goes in a different direction. Oh, it still gets to where I need it to be – but invariably by a more interesting route than the one I had planned!

So, that’s where I am at the moment; turning over the key scenes in my mind and thinking through how the characters will act. As I do so, the motivations that drive the characters and the hooks I will need to pull them to the next scene become apparent. Honestly, I sometimes feel my first draft is as much a surprise to me as it is to my readers!

It’s not a very predictable process, so I can’t say when I’ll be getting down to writing the actual story. All I know is, not quite yet!

Published by Mark

Writer of Lovecraftian horror fiction and designer of games

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