Friday, July 29, 2011

Perfectly Planned Plots

Okay, they don’t exist. But I decided to show you my method. If characters are the food you serve your readers, then consider this one way to plan the meal.

·         Get an idea and a character. Remember Old Lady Grayson from a few blogs ago.  She rummages in a dumpster behind Jack’s Steak House and finds more than just dinner.

·         Run with it. Go wild.  Flesh this thing out. The dumpster reeks in the 99 degree afternoon. Somebody plays loud music and a rat scampers out from some garbage. She reaches for a bag of chicken nuggets and finds a cold, limp hand, covered in cooking grease.

·         Now we’re cooking. Keep writing more characters and more stuff happening. She can’t go to the police because she’s wanted for armed robbery twenty years ago, so she heads over to Big Mike, the local drug dealer and tells him. Why? Don’t know yet what their relationship is, but it’s coming.  Mike calls Dirk Dixson, ex-cop and troubleshooter. Dirk arrives with his buddy Weeds. The plot thickens.

·         Keep writing more characters and more stuff. Add some subplots. At some point, you will have an Eureka moment and know where this is all going. You’ll know how it ends.

·         Stop and write the ending.  Doesn’t have to be great, but flesh out what you can. In our story, two bad cops are chasing Dirk through an old warehouse at the water front while Weeds bleeds to death outside. I’m not going to tell you more, but Big Mike may show up and Old Lady Grayson may find out she’s no longer on America’s Most Wanted.

·         Now fill in what comes in between.  This may mean fixing things you’ve already done and taking notes about what comes next.  I always tuck them at the end of the manuscript and erase once I accomplish the task.

Next time: some tips to spice up the plot.

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