First off let me say Happy Easter! I hope you are all safe, happy, and blessed.
Now on to the business of the day. Last week I let my good friend Paisley take the heat off me with her guest blog so I could give myself an extra week to think on the second part of my writing blog series. Because, with this one, I really needed the thunking time.
Plot is never an easy thing to talk about. To quote a famous Doctor it’s all whimbly wombly. The spellings might be a little off but you get the idea.
To begin with, plot gets confused with story. Plot is the driving force of a story, not the story itself. The story is a direct result of how the plot guides the character through the twists and turns an author puts those characters through. Somewhere, there is probably a list of all the plots ever thought up by authors. There aren’t that many, but here’s a few just to give you an idea.
Man versus environment.
Man versus man.
Man versus self.
Man versus an intergalactic zombie horde bent on world domination and delectable human brainage.
Okay, that last one is mine and mine alone, but it’s still a viable plot, just one that not even a comic book would use.
The three plots about it though can be twisted to be used for just about every eventuality. I leave it to you to come up with those twists. In part one of this series, I told you I would be using the plot from my new WiP to illustrate my points. In it, we went over characters and how I came up with a story. Now that we have three different plots to base a book on, lets go over a few different techniques in developing a plot.
Character driven plots.
Story driven plot
Insane sadist author driven plot.
What do I mean by those?
Character driven plots tend to allow the characters themselves to determine how a plot will develop and unfold. Their reactions or actions dictate how the plot flows. This to me is a panster mentality. The writer discovers what happens as the reader does, by the seat of his or her pants. There’s a lot of room for error this way, but it also gives a spontaneity to the work that adds an excitement element that any other way just can’t compete with.
Story driven plots are more developed before hand. The author has a firm grasp on the book and knows the plot well enough to see how the characters will react to the story as he or she sees it. Usually, the author can envision the entire story with no surprises because the ending is already set in stone.
Do I really need to go into that last one? The author throws everything but the kitchen sink, and sometimes that, at his characters and rubs his hands maniacally while he does it. Yes, I used male pronouns, because most of the time that’s me doing it.
But, I have used all three techniques as a writer. Early on, I was the supreme pantster. Now, I use a combination of all three to achieve my nefarious ends.
Before starting Bite the Neck that Loves You, I had my plot already. In fact the plot for all the Bite Marks books are already set in stone. Franki would look for Alex, then they both would look for the Tome of Alabaster, a book they needed to find and keep out of the First Fallen’s hands. For those not in the know, The First Fallen is the first vampire birthed on earth. Not telling how, in case you haven’t caught up yet. I’d call that plot man versus environment, but I could be wrong because my characters need to battle their own natures to achieve that end. That’s the thing about characters, if they don’t evolve, you’re basically spinning your wheels. We craved growth in those we care about. Why shouldn’t people in books grow too? We love them just as much as people out here in the real world.
Here’s where things go wonky on a writer. Just because we have a plot, characters we pretty much know like second cousins and even a firm grasp on all the things that will happen between page one and the end, those characters will do things to totally screw up the middle bit. The plot doesn’t change but how the story develops changes because of how the characters begin evolving on you.
So, you have to step back and take a different look on things. This is where the term writer’s block comes from. Nothing twists up a writer’s mind like having their creations not do what we tell them to do. We’re a megalomaniac bunch, when it comes to stuff like that.
That’s all my secrets for this week. Next week, I’ll come up with something else to ponder on. Thinking something about first lines, or cliffhangers. Any who. Happy Easter and have a wonderful week.