Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Plotting Against Myself

I've always had a problem with plots. Or specifically, when I start writing, I have an awfully hard time getting things moving from the exact moment I'm writing about. I always think of a little more to say about a situation, or an odd thought that enters a character's head that I want to capture, and...just wind up stuck. Sometimes I just can't get out of my own way. Especially since I like to play fast and loose with ideas, always willing to shove one out the door in case a better one comes along -- leading me to not quite commit to any of them at times.

It ain't great, believe me.

So today, nearing the end of my first draft (I'm this close to the 100K mark, and estimate only 3 or 4 chapters to go), I took a break from putting one foot in front of the other and instead opened up a separate file and wrote about the end of the book as if I'd just read it. Since I couldn't quite put my finger on what should happen in it, I just decided, why not think about it as if it'd already happened? And lo and behold, I've discovered some elements to the ending that should give it a few more wrinkles, and (ta-dah!) actually make it satisfying. Which was a big worry, believe me.

One big help: On the way to the coffee shop, I heard an episode of Radiolab in which Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) was talking about a conversation she had about the creative process with Tom Waits. And Waits would sometimes treat his songs that weren't quite coming together like recalcitrant kids. He'd walk around the studio, talking to the songs, threatening and cajoling, saying "All the rest of us are in the car, we're all going on vacation, and if you're not ready in ten minutes we're leaving without you." Love that guy!

Anyway, that helped me put things in a little perspective for me. Just gotta attack things from a different angle every now and then. Get out of my own way, and treat the plot as a fait accompli.

Still need to figure out a title, but one thing at a time, I guess.


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