>Today, I am plotting. For me, this is the hard part. Okay, very little about writing for publication is easy, but for me, the story is almost always the hardest part, which is why I’m always surprised to hear from someone telling me that plotting is my strength. And yes, this has actually happened. Multiple times.
To be fair to myself, I think I’ve gotten better at plotting since I started. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m no longer writing Shifters stories. I love that so many people liked Faythe and/or her world/family, but honestly, in my attempt to keep her world from straying (Ha! A pun!) into the too-familiar territory of vampires, witches, and werewolves, I actually limited my own options. There are only so many fight-the-power stories I can write, when that power never changes. In short, Faythe’s world was pretty limiting for me. Claustrophobic, at times, at least in regard to story lines.
The Soul Screamers world, however, is wide open. There are so many kinds of creatures (still no vamps, witches, or werewolves) that I feel like I could easily take plots in any of about a million different directions. And, of course, Kaylee’s world is actually two worlds: ours, and the Netherworld. Endless combinations of scary/creepy/funny/sad/exciting. It’s like a plot buffet. And I’m kinda…starved.
The Unbound world, so far, is completely different than anything I’ve ever written. On the surface, it seems a little confining in that it has no creatures at all, and no alternate hell dimension. But the deeper I dig into that world and into the characters’ backgrounds, the more I uncover. The more I discover to write about.
For me, plotting is like playing a giant game of connect the dots–only you have to make up the dots. Those dots can be anything. A cool world-building concept, a character attribute, or even a single word. Yesterday, I spent about an hour in various online dictionaries, thesauri, and reverse dictionaries, studying the etymology of words I’d considered using to define a new concept. And in that hour of building and deconstructing words, I uncovered several more dots I hadn’t even known I was missing. They fit so well, it was like they were always supposed to be there. Like I’d subconsciously left blank spots for them, knowing my conscious mind would eventually stumble over the right ideas.
But again, ideas do not a plot make. The plot comes in when you figure out how to piece those dots (ideas) together. It’s about connecting concepts in a rational (yet hopefully unpredictable) way.
That’s been one of my goals over the last few books (the most recent two of which aren’t out yet). Unpredictability, without stomping all over reader/genre expectation. I think it’s going well. But I won’t know for sure until next year, when my latest efforts have hit the shelf and reviewers have had a chance to point out all my brand new mistakes.
But for now, plotting continues to be both a frustrating and rewarding process. So far, anyway.
It may be time for some new Post-its…