I’m not a plotter. I don’t map my way through the book when an idea comes, I don’t try to understand my characters when they first appear to me and I don’t demand answers. I just ask questions. I am one of those writers who write actions and justify them. Is this the right way? I don’t know, but this is the way it happens.
Recently I started reading a book about plot. It’s titled Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and it’s practically a handbook about the story that’s inside your head. It helps you make it into words but also teaches you to structure the words in a way that it’s appealing and even addictive to the reader. It’s a very interesting and helpful book so far, obviously a must read, but I can’t deny that it makes me a little nervous.
A book is not only about the story and the plot is not only about writing the most surprising development so you can make the reader gasp. Plotting means to structure your story in that way that every single page, every single scene will force the reader to keep reading. As if it magnetizes him. Well, you know this is hard.
To do so, you must create some very interesting characters. Surprise, surprise but the lead character is not enough. So when we say plotting, it means being able to answer all the questions about our story, questions that we may have not yet asked.
I figure out the plot, while writing and some of the answers I ask remain unanswered since the plot is changing until I figure out the real story that my character wants to tell me. If I start thinking about plot a lot, I see a wall rising and I freeze. The writing stops and I become miserable. So, I keep writing and the more I do the more I find answers. Like a treasure hunt!
So my advice about plotting is this. Take the idea that is tormenting you and start writing. All you need is that little sparkle and the rest will come. Write by asking questions, answer some and keep writing. At some point you’ll realize that you had all the answers you wanted. All you needed was to write the stuff out of your mind so you can see clearly. Because at the end of the day. As much reading as you have done. As much advices and rules you’ve read, if you don’t write and find out what it works for you, then your story will remain just a tiny idea inside your head.
You don’t want that.
How does it work for you? Are you plotter? If yes, how do you do it?