Thursday, April 9, 2015

So you want to write a book Part 3: Plot the course

Where do you want your story to go?

For me, I went from writing one book to working on a series. At one point it was going to even be a tetralogy, but when I got a hold to the story, lo and behold, I saw that four books was too much for the Human Cycle. So a trilogy it was to be.

When was I able to see this? When I wrote down the major plot points. And yes, it was as complicated a process as writing itself. For Only Human, I took a world Atlas and literally plotted the map and where I was going.

History, geography, topography and folklore then allowed me to flesh everything out but seeing that line on a world map helped me see where we were going, literally. The research filled in the blanks of several whys about why we were going there.

Every project is its own beast and I tackle each plot very differently. Sometimes I include notes, dialogue and other tidbits because there are plenty of lighting-in-a-bottle moments that you NEED to capture. Some chapters I have tons of notes. Other times, a word or two is all I require to know what I need to do. The thing is that I plot the course so I have a direction which often allows me to avoid contradictions, plotholes and other literary complications.

Still the most important lesson I’ve learned from writing plot points is comparable to one of the truths stated in the Whovian universe: some points are non negotiable, they cannot shift, they cannot be altered. They must endure.

For me, some plot points cannot and most likely will not be changed from the beginning of a project to its end. But I’m flexible with the rest. I do so because in that freedom I find my story while those anchors keep me focused and on my way.

So here’s to sailing on in the seas of our stories and knowing when to flow, and when to remain.

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