To Plot (or not)
Posted by ~Cerys
I’m really bad at plotting out my stories. This should not be confused with being bad at thinking of things to write. I think that’s probably the problem I have with all of this, though.
I don’t really have any problems thinking of things to write. Sometimes I don’t know the exact thing I want to write, but if something is an issue, I’ll leave it for a bit and come back to it. Usually my issues there arise with connecting things, and figuring out the details. Not with the actual plot, but just how to connect one thing to another so that it has purpose, you know?
I can’t really give any good examples of this in my books without spoiling things completely. I’m going to use the Fifty Shades series, since I think that’s well known enough that it won’t really spoil anything (and if it does, I’m sorry!).
In the Fifty Shades books, come to find out, Christian is attracted to brown haired girls that remind him of his mother. Now… that’s kind of creepy, but oh well, that’s how it is. To be fair, they say that people are attracted like that anyways, I guess? Like, if you’re a woman, you look for someone who has similar traits to your father? I guess it’d be the opposite for a man, too. I don’t really know how that works.
Anyways! This ends up explaining why Christian is incredibly attracted to Anastasia, who is otherwise seen as somewhat plain and ordinary. We don’t really get it at first, but then all of a sudden it makes some sense. It’s still kind of creepy, but we’re invested enough in the story to be alright with it to some extent. Or, I was, at least. Christian’s mother is the reason for a lot of other things, too, and if you’ve read the books then it’ll make sense.
So that’s kind of what I do. Like… I might have had part of it planned out for later, at least in my head, and then the beginning works fine, and I connect the dots to bring the beginning to the end in some meaningful way. Before I write, I might know that I want Christian to be incredibly attracted to Ana, and I might know that he had unresolved issues with his mother, but then as I was writing, I’d think, “Oh, hey! What if his mother’s looks remind him of Ana, which is where the initial allure came in?” And I’d go with that. I didn’t really plan that to begin with, but it makes sense and it adds depth to the story, you know?
I don’t know if E.L. James did that or not, but if I were writing Fifty Shades, that’s what I’d do.
Some people think that’s a weird way to write, but I like it. I think it’s more fun and interesting sometimes. I’ve tried doing a general plot outline for what I want to write, and I can see the use in it because it gives you some structure for where to go and all of that, but… every time I’ve done it, I don’t actually stick to it.
Ember of Ecstasy is a good example. I was trying out the plotting thing again, for no real reason I could think of. I hadn’t written in The Monster Within series for awhile, so I thought it might help. Before I started, I reread all the other ones to get myself caught up somewhat, so I didn’t really need a plot outline or anything, but I figured I’d do it anyways.
It wasn’t bad, but… I kind of ignored half of the things I wrote because I thought of better things to write as I was going, and then it ended entirely different than what I expected.
In the newest one, which I’m tentatively calling Rise of Spirit, I even started it somewhat differently than I planned. Solace is in a forest, right? If you haven’t read it, this isn’t really a spoiler, and if you have then you’ll know why she’s in a forest. So I was going to write this, and do that, and all of these things, and…
“Hey,” I said to myself. Myself perked up and looked at me curiously. “What if there’s a spider?”
“Yes, a spider. But a big one. A giant spider, and there’s a web.”
“A giant web, of course.”
“Yes, right. And…”
“Hey! What if the spider can talk? It’s fantasy, right? And there’s demons and seraphs and goblins and stuff. So maybe there’s a talking spider?”
And now, as you might have guessed, Rise of Spirit has a talking spider. I don’t really know where that came from. It just sort of happened. That’s about how my plotting usually goes, too. I have too many ideas sometimes, which is a good and a bad thing. Occasionally I need to get rid of some ideas, because too many ideas is just confusing, you know? But sometimes I get to add in the random talking spider and then make it important somehow (so then it’s not random, because just having a random talking spider is kind of weird. No one would like that).
So if you ever wondered where I get my ideas or how I do my plotting, I couldn’t really tell you. It comes to me somehow, and I just write it down. I think a lot and I’m kind of a strange person, so that might help. If you think a lot and you’re strange, maybe you have the same problems? They aren’t the worse problems to have, I’d say. Rather amusing ones, actually.