Plotting or plodding?Posted: September 11, 2012
I am working on my plot this week. I never really thought about what plot is until I started struggling with my own version. I have the major ideas that are not character or setting based, but when it came down to the sequence of events that happened either to force the characters to react or not I got stuck. When I get stuck, I have the habit of reading writing blogs, books, websites, magazines or whatever I can get my greedy hands on to work through it in my subconscious. (Yes, I know I’m a writing geek.) I came across this sentence in Patricia C. Wrede’s Fabulous (my word not hers) Blog that really got me thinking (to the point that I wrote this without finishing the rest of her blog on Plot until afterwards.) She wrote:
A plot, by my definition, is a sequence of events, nearly always tied together by causality, that involve characters and take place in a setting. I prefer the sort that have a problem to solve and some sort of resolution or closure at the end.
What it got me thinking about was that I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been talking to other writers and they think they are talking about plot but in reality they are talking about character issues or setting issues. Not that it’s right or wrong. If that is what they are focusing on, great, it’s their book not mine. I like plot. I love how I can make something happen that the characters now have to deal with. Remember the pool with the shark? If the shark is hungry or the character is bleeding it is no longer sink or swim . . . it is live or die. So plot can do a lot with a story. Turn it in a direction you’re not expecting. Or the plot point hit and the character is now doing something you didn’t expect. I love those moments of discovery in my writing. The hope that I keep experiencing these things and enjoying them keeps me sitting down to see what the characters do next.
Back to the plodding . . . I mean plotting. Is my sequence of events moving too slowly? I am beginning to think that instead of plotting I’m plodding. I might have added too much detail of what is going on (for my taste) in how a book is paced. I know there are a lot of writers who can focus on the small details and really make it come to life for a lot of readers. Robert Parker comes to mind with the descriptions of cooking or food in his Spenser novels. Science fiction writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Stanislaw Lem, and Poul Anderson come to mind where they go into great detail of the science of how things work. My dirty secret: I skip these parts. I’m a character person, a plot person, a setting person . . . a story person. I could care less how the dish was made, what ingredients went into it, or how it tasted to the characters. I don’t want to know how the faster-than-light-engine works, or the super-duper-insta-trasporter broke and how we’re going to fix it unless it is a key part of the plot. I know people who love that kind of story because that kind of detail makes it real for them. But that is not my thing.
I think I’ll try and adjust the zoom lens on my internal camera and see if putting the plot into less granular detail helps me move ahead with this story. Just gotta remember where the key points are and keep going. Maybe then I’ll stop plodding and start plotting again.
Author’s note: Apologies for the week hiatus. My sister was getting married and I didn’t account for how much I would get sucked in to doing things around and for the wedding. Therefore I got NO writing done.