Lately I’ve been trying to do some pre-planning for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Mostly, I want to work out at least some concept of a plot arc, in contrast to my usual method of “pick a direction and go.” That’s worked out sometimes, not so much others. And I’m very excited about the characters I want to write about this November, so I want them to have a really great plot to play in.
I’ve been working with some tools to lay out the major sections and key turning points of the story, with tightly integrated plot and character developments. The character arc really drives the shape of it…so I’m creating plot points to drive the character growth, although in a funny way it’s who the character is that drives how they react to the plot points, so…it’s a very confused cause and effect.
And even in semi-outlining, characters can rebel! I have a pretty good handle on Rose, and worked out some plot twists that work very well with who she is and who she ends up becoming. Terrence, on the other hand (you met him as a child last week), has not been cooperating. He didn’t want to react to my plot points the way I expected, and seemed to be pursuing a goal completely different than the one I thought he wanted–which sent me back to the drawing board to see if I actually understood his character after all.
Part of the challenge, I realized, was that the motivations driving Terrence’s effect on the plot are not the same ones driving his character growth. On a plot level, he’s deeply conflicted about his relationship with his father. On a character growth level, he’s dealing with a lack of worthiness. Are those related? Absolutely. Are they the same thing? Mm, not quite.
People think writers just make things up. Some days, even I think that. And then on other days, with gratitude to Robin McKinley for the metaphor, it’s much, much more like trying to part the veil to look in on the Land of Story and see how it all happened. Though I have to say–those are the most exciting stories to write in the end!
No excerpt today, because all I’d have to give you is a plot outline, and that would be giving rather a lot away, wouldn’t it? 😉