Thursday, 20 January 2011

Plot, Plot, Plotting!

I've been struggling a bit with my current book.  It hasn't been coming together in the way I hoped despite several drafts and sessions with the index cards.  But I've just done another mega card session and - cross fingers - I think I'm there.

I posted earlier about one of the earlier plotting sessions and how I couldn't decide whether to start earlier, or feed that story through the plot as scenes of flashback.  Well - surprise surprise given my oft-stated aversion to flashback - I've decided against that.  But it still wasn't right.  The index cards were laid out on the table yet again and I stared at them until my eyes hurt.  It wasn't working.  Characters were having to make abrupt emotional about-turns - I love you, oh no I don't, I love you instead. (Sort of - I paraphrase.) Plus, there was a lot of misery and moping, which I don't like writing much.

Then - ping! - lightbulb moment.  Time was going to come to my side. Time, the great healer.  My story was going to spread over several years, not several months.  Characters had time to meet, change, do whatever they were going to do.  Suddenly it all fell into place.  I didn't have to explain how A had met B in the past - I could show them meeting.  I didn't have to explain how C once looked after D - I could show it.  When F behaves badly, it was because F was young and foolish, not older and more calculating.  When G gets taken in, it was because G is young and naive, not older and, frankly, a bit dim.

I looked at the cards again.  Same scenes, but now a very different flavour pervades the book.  And I'm happily re-writing again.

7 comments:

Rebecca Bradley said...

It feels tough going when things just aren't coming together doesn't it. You've got to love lightbulb moments! I'm glad you managed to get going again :)

Sean Z P Harris said...

Indeed, congrats on your eureka moment. Always nice when that happens.

Karen said...

I love those moments, when everything falls into place.

It's only happened once that I got so stuck I just had to admit defeat in the end and move on - maybe if I go back to that project one day I'll have a lightbulb moment!

womagwriter said...

Yay, well done Sarah! It may be years for your characters but can still feel dramatic for your readers who will cover the years in a matter of hours.

Pauline Barclay said...

I loved this Blog Sarah, it cheered me up.I have been strugging with the time line on my latest book, which my editor pointed out. I admit to crying as I could not see it! Thanks Sarah, I'm getting the cards out again! x

Jan Sprenger said...

Sarah - re. Index cards - how many does this involve? I ask because I currently use Excel as my key planning tool, and I've just looked at my list of scenes and it's 82. Do you put several connected scenes on one card, or pull out the key scenes?

Sarah Duncan said...

Thanks all - I'm still glowing!

Jan - I started answering you but it's gone on and on and on, I'm going to do it as a blog post.