Wednesday, March 14, 2012
To Plot or Not - or Overcoming Writer's Block
At one of our chapter meetings of RWA, the speaker talked about plotting a novel and writing a synopsis before the book was written. She suggested if we had never done that to try it.
So I did.
I had an idea for a story that was taking shape in my mind. As usual, I knew how it would begin and how it would end. What happened in the middle? I didn’t have a clue. It was a much a surprise to me as it was to the reader. Oh, I had a few ideas. I knew there was a secret about my heroine’s birth, and she’d find a dead body But I had no idea who he was (yes, I knew it was a male) or why he was killed. So I tried plotting. I came up with a few ideas about his identity and even about who murdered him and why.
I started to outline my plot, and I came up with a pretty good story line. Then, I started writing. For a while, it flowed pretty well. My heroine discovered the body. Then I was stuck. Something didn’t feel right to me. I wasn’t sure what it was, but for some reason, I couldn’t move on. My heroine wouldn’t let me. No matter how I tried to write the next conflict, I couldn’t.
I was totally blocked. The story sat for almost two years without me typing even one word. Every time I opened it, I read it, made a few changes, and then I got to the part where I was stumped.
I stared at the computer, sometimes for hours, trying to come up with something, anything –even if it was garbage – just to get me past that hump. I couldn’t do it. So I’d move on to something else. I revised several other stories that I’d written a long time ago, and then I’d go back to it. The problem was –I was locked into the outline, I didn’t know how to make the transition to the next thing. It didn’t feel right. I couldn't get that plot outline out of my head.
It wasn’t until one day; I was emailing my writing buddy about my dilemma. I needed help and any suggestions she could offer would be most welcome. I wrote what I had so far, and where I wanted the story to go. For some reason, in that email, I started to ask what if, which is how I usually wrote. I threw out a couple of ideas to her and answered them myself. Finally, I was unblocked. I even created a new character and another conflict. I threw out the plot outline and went a completely different way. Once I ignored that outline, the story flowed.
That was how I usually wrote, asking what if as I wrote, coming up with new ideas. For me, outlining doesn’t work. I’ll never do it again. For others, it works fine and good for them. I understand it’s not necessary to stick to the outline, but for me, since I wrote it, I had trouble deviating from it. It blocked my creativity. Yes, I should have ignored it long before, but it was too fresh in my mind. It took two years and then some to forget what was on that outline so I could move on. I, for one, will never outline a plot again.
My current novels are available from Amazon at: http://amzn.to/tnqgR2
see more of Vijaya's books HERE At one time in my writing career, I looked at the covers of my books and realized on each of them ...
A Master Passion - A Founder's Marriage Angelica, older sister to Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, was a piece of work. Perhaps yo...
As a writer I know the power of words, and I’m constantly searching for the right words to make my stories live. But recently...
I’ve just come back from my old hometown of Stroud, in Gloucestershire, in the UK. Development has drastically altered the face of the to...