Sunday, January 31, 2010

Plot Masters

I don't have nearly as much time to read as I used to, largely because part of the time I used to read, I now devote to writing, so the reading comes on my commutes and in five minutes bursts here and there when for some reason I have a span of just a few minutes to kill, but I find I am reading much differently these days than I used to. Maybe it is that I now have four books under my... erm... lack of belt [a belt is only an accessory, so theoretically I COULD wear one, but they are really better left to strapping my muse's hands together so I can tickle a plot out of him... bondage is all they are good for, after all].

I'm watching movies differently too. I find I am appreciating truly masterful storytelling in a more... technical way.

So what is this metamorphosis we go through as we finally get our writing legs? And does this process happen to all writers? Or have some of y'all always BEEN plot masters?

Character Fetish

See, I've historically been all about character. I wanted character growth, and character experiences, and experience BY CHARACTERS of irony... but it was always about the people meandering through my stories. I really don't want to lose that, because I still love books that do that well. But perhaps I can do more than one thing well... I can hope.

Iain Pears

Under recommendation of two fellow Burrowers, when I asked for books about art thief stuff, I heard about a series by Iain Pears... Now NOTHING is more plot intensive than mystery. And Pears' books are shortish... I like his characters fine, but they aren't terribly complicated or developed, but I still find myself enjoying the books (and the Rafael Affair taught me about Icon forgery, which will be VERY useful in my rewrite of Illusions (book 2 of the trilogy)). I like the way sometimes a bad day leads to an unexpected coup. I like the way vices provide alibis. I like a bumbler or two.

My Reading to Replot

I am rereading LEGACY and finding my characters a little too competent... they're kids... I really ought to give them a little rougher time in solving things... (though frankly, I think writing it without and then adding those in is probably the more expedient route—so I didn't lose track of the story and all).

I have also spotted a dozen details I'd intended to be important or come up later, and CONSPIRACY, as I wrote the first 10 chapters completely missed that... it was my detour, methinks... writing DENIABILITY... though ANY long story is bound to have those. CONFLUENCE did, and it was a single book... The only books that don't have them, I think, are those written in a mad frenzy where the plot all sits in your head... that has happened to me ONCE, and I know it only happened because the book (LEGACY) was a PREquel to a book I'd been plotting for months.

I find I like this process though... reading to write the plot of the later books... only trouble is, I'm catching up with what has been typed. Making corrections and changes to the hand-written is probably going to be more difficult... need to find my red pen... the green might do...

To Loop Back Around...

So I am curious about the process by which the rest of you have developed... Did anyone else go through this plot epiphany, or was plot originally your strength and it is the other stuff that comes later? I'd love to hear how abnormal I am *snort*.


M.J. Nicholls said...

Plots have a way of resolving themselves. Where was he during the murder? Oh, he was testing out his new time-travelling machine. Right. Why does that character appear in two places at the same time? Identical twins. Of course.

Leanne said...

Plot. Eurgh. I kinda suck at plot. The whole putting-words-together thing, I can do that. As to what they're ABOUT... I repeat, eurgh. And see, I told you Pears would be good. :-D

Watery Tart said...

Mark, sounds like you are back-plotting--a definite career in soap operas with that!

Leanne--I had more trouble with plot until I managed to DO it a couple times. It get's easier. Okay, maybe not easier, but you'll get better at it!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I have to go back and fix things later. I've already noticed 2 small plot holes as I'm writing the first draft of the 2nd Memphis book. I'm highlighting them to go back later.

Kids are HARD to write. I've got 2 kids discovering a body in this first draft of mine. I may have to take out the scene in revisions. I'm not sure I'm hitting the right notes...and when you bring kids into the mix, things aren't so very "cozy."