Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Palate Cleansers, Brainstorming and Plotting

What I'm reading: Split Second, by David Baldacci. Also finished 2 quick reads: Fresh Disasters, by Stuart Woods, and The 6th Target, by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro.

What I'm writing - a new, as yet untitled short story that's getting longer and longer.

I finished my Dalton & Miri novel and have set it aside so I can revise it more objectively. After about 3 days, the writing itch came back, but I wasn't sure where to begin. Too many choices. A sequel to one of my other novels? If so, which one.?

I browsed my old writing exercise folders and came across a short exercise assignment: "Use the word curmudgeon in an under 2000 word story. I looked it over, along with notes from my old critique group and wondered if/how I could turn it into something to submit to The Wild Rose Press, which meant it had to be a romance. Since the story was about a reclusive author dealing with his curmudgeonly old man neighbor, the possibilities weren't promising. But, it was worth thinking about how to work a woman into the story. Since I had the framework of my male protagonist, I needed an acceptable (meaning totally opposite) female character.

On Saturday, my local crit group met. We do our basic critiques for writing glitches electronically, so our face to face meetings are for brainstorming. Thanks to our back-and-forth 'what if?' discussions, tossing all sorts of possibilities on the table, by the time we finished, I had the major plot points worked out. In a short story, there aren't that many of them!

I realize that this is also the way I plot a novel, but in a novel, I have about 100,000 words to work through everything, so I do this over and over throughout the book. For a short story, it's kind of 'one stop plotting.'

Another thing I found as I started writing was that this story, my male protagonist insists on being the sole POV character. I've written most of my short stories from a single POV, but always the female. I'm going to have to get my husband to read this one all the way through--not just the sexy stuff.

I'm having a lot of fun, and since this is a contemporary, traditional romance, not a mystery or suspense, there's not nearly as much work as far as setting up a mystery/crime and dealing with all the clues, red herrings and other twists the genre requires.

The only 'drawback' to having the story virtually plotted out in its entirety is that since I know what's going to happen, I've lost some of the excitement of discovery and have to spend more time getting from point A to point B and less deciding what point B actually is. I let the characters guide me, but unlike a novel-length work, I have to keep cutting them off. There just isn't time to show their entire life history on the page, even though they insist on telling all sorts of pesky childhood details.

My goal is to have this finished before I leave town on Monday.


Marianne Arkins said...

Good luck! I typically write from both male and female POV's in my novels, but I actually prefer the male. I wonder why that is?

Good luck!

Terry said...

Hi, Marianne -
According to my CP's, I'm way too in love with my male characters! She's always telling me not to spend so much time going into so many details. I think it's because it's harder to get into the head of a guy, so we work at making sure we write it 'right.' But we also get to create our dream men!

For a woman, we can draw on our own feelings and experiences, so it's not quite the challenge. Hard, yes, but we have more tools at our disposal.