Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Plotting the Details

Because I still have a lot of classes to make up from the month of ballet I missed due to illness last fall (followed by a couple of colds in the spring semester), I stayed after ballet last night for the jazz class. And now I'm barely mobile and very creaky because jazz is a lot more intense than ballet. But it's great exercise because the class starts with stuff like crunches and push-ups. I just don't know how great an idea it is to dance from 7:15 to 9:45. The jazz was fun, though, and keeping up with the choreography is good mental exercise. I didn't even feel terribly awkward. At times I even felt like I was really dancing rather than working my way through a series of steps. Now we'll see if I manage to drag myself to tonight's ballet class. I've been awfully sedentary lately, so I need the structured exercise. Plus, the heroine of the book I'm working on is a dancer, so I think this helps keep me in the right mindset. I would say that I wish my knees were twenty years younger, but then it was about twenty years ago that I had to have knee surgery, so my knees were actually worse then.

I think I've figured out my main problem with plotting this book: The plot is really just a framework to hang the characters' emotional arcs onto. I've got the emotional stuff all worked out in great detail, but then I get vague and hand-wavy about the external plot that leads to that emotional stuff happening. Normally, it's the other way around, where I come up with a plot and then figure out how it affects the characters emotionally. This is also a book that's a lot angstier than I tend to write because these are all difficult emotions that will require tough decisions and sacrifices. I think the humor will come through in the voice. In the first book of this potential series, the emotional stuff was mostly subtext and the dialogue was snappy, almost screwball comedy style, where they talked about everything but what they were really feeling. Which is why it took a lot of rewrites, as I started with them saying things outright, then gradually edited that into subtext lying underneath witty quips. I imagine I'll have to do the same here.

So, today's fun will involve forcing myself to really plot and to stop whenever I'm tempted to slide by with "and then something happens" rather than coming up with what actually happens. I still leave myself room to play and allow myself to change things in midstream if I come up with something better while I'm writing, but leaving things at "and then something happens" at this point is a recipe for being blocked when I get to that part of the book. On the up side, I'm starting to have individual scenes play out in my head. They're not all strung together and are random bits and pieces, but I like it when the "movie" starts playing in my mind. I've got the opening scene down pretty well and am figuring out what happens next out of several possible options. I may also have the "ticking clock" element, the reason why the characters have to resolve this problem now.

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