Monday, May 20, 2013

Brushing Up On Plotting For The May Days Project

My May Days project involves coming up with an outline for a book I've been thinking about writing for, maybe, ten years. I got started with research and a few notes twice. But with my last few writing projects, I've been trying to get away from the organic writer thing and do more pre-writing plotting. So that's what's happening this month with this latest shot at this book.

Sometime before I wrote my last, for the time being, unpublished book, I invested in a copy of Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. As a result, I've been very interested in plots starting with a disturbance to the main character's world, which he writes about. I really don't care for the give-characters-a-problem thing that I've heard so much about, but a disturbance to their world makes perfect sense to me. In fact, that's how almost all my books began before I'd even heard anything about disturbing a world. Disturbing people may come naturally to me.

Needless to say, that's how my May Days project is starting, with a disturbance.

Looking at my Plot & Structure notes this morning, I saw that Bell talks about plot patterns. I have three significant characters, and I'm going to try to give each one of them a different pattern, which is more or less their goal. For instance, one character's plot pattern/goal is revenge, the second's is a quest, and the third's is what Bell calls "one apart"--a loner who is forced to act.

Now, sometime in the past I found the following story structure plan at a website called Storyfix. It involves thinking of your plot as having four parts with a mid-point.

Part 1. Set up.

Part 2. Collecting information. Either the author, or the protagonist  Some people will talk about complications at this point in a story, but as an organic writer, that leaves me wondering “What complications? Where am I supposed to get those?” Sending my character out to collect more information about what’s happening to her or her world, makes more sense to me and it’s phrased dynamically.

Mid-point—Plot twist or maybe moment where protagonist changes

Part 3. Protagonist uses information

Part 4. Ending

I like this structure because it is so simple. And it tells me what to do. And it is a structure, not a formula, like the give-your-character-something-to-want-and-then-keep-it-from-her thing that I have also heard a lot of in the past.

So this is what I'm working on this month with my May Days project.

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