Before The Storm

Fucking PencilsSo, there were no posts last week because I was on the last blitzkreig-esque run that happens at the end of finishing a story. Those times are weird. My fitness tracker kept alerting me because I was moving so much less than usual. I think it believed I was dead, and hoped the vibration would alert someone to the whereabouts of my body.

The last moments of editing, it turns out, are a lot like the last moments of writing: all fire and hammering as you frantically try to forge a bunch of pieces together into one giant, unstoppable whole which will soon be lurching down to the village. It’s exhilarating, but it’s also tiring. By the time I wrapped things up before spending the weekend away, I was spent. Mentally, not physically. It’s already been established I was more of a desk sloth than usual last week.

This week, now that I’m home, is the rumoured Time Between Books. I’m not even sure what the next project is, let alone when it’s due. In a way, that’s a relief, because it’s nice to be able to think again. But I also feel a bit like a fish that’s just been yanked out of the ocean, flopping around and gasping. I need to get back in the water soon.

Not yet, though. This week I’m catching up on all the little chores that pile up during writing time and knocking off a bunch of small projects. Gift shopping, because most everyone I know was born in the second half of the year. Bookshelf organizing. Hell, I might actually get my nephew’s birthday gift to him early for once.

And, of course, taking down all the stuff from the last project.

This one’s bittersweet. I know I don’t need those post-it notes and scrawled timelines any more, but dumping them in the waste basket is still a wrench.

But they have to go. Because I need that space for the new project.

I know, I know. I said a few paragraphs ago that I didn’t know what that was yet. And I don’t . Not entirely. But I have a feeling. And what I do know is that it’s going to be a doozy.

This here? This is the calm before the storm. Better enjoy it.

The Dick Move Method of Developing Plot

Luminos Dias

I move in mysterious ways. (Photo credit: atlebra)

I’ve been fleshing out the plot of my next novel lately.* And something has come to my attention.

Man, I am an asshole.

Seriously. If the characters I create are just analogues of real people in some alternate universe, then I am in serious trouble if inter-universe travel is ever discovered. Because not only am I an asshole to them, they’re not the kind of people inclined to take that well. We’re talking vengeful blades of destruction here. I mean, I know I have no one but myself to blame, but still

The only good news is that they’d probably refuse to believe in me as their god, because a lot of them tend toward atheism.  I’m beginning to wonder if that’s a fail-safe I built into them.

You want to know why I think they’ll be so mad? Here’s my super-secret plot development strategy:

1) Create a protagonist. Create them alongside the main conflict if you like, but create them good and hard.

2) Figure out what they want most in the world at that moment. Like, the thing that they will fucking die without.

3) Don’t let them have it.

Dick move, right? Welcome to the wonderful world of being an author.

Not to say that this is an original method or anything. This is just what I cobbled together from scads of writing advice and research.** I condensed all that into a couple of key points that fit easily onto a page or a cue card because I like simplicity.

Those three steps get me started. From there I can create other characters, ones who help and hinder the protagonist along the way. Or do both, because people are weird. And sometimes assholes. Before I know it, I’ve got a whole cast, or most of one.

And the key to keeping that story going? Every time it looks like my character is making some progress toward that goal they want, I make the situation worse. Simultaneously make it harder to get and that much more important that they get it. Or the consequences will be fucking dire. End of the world, or at least the protagonist’s world.

I really hope they never find me.

*Yeah, I’m an outliner. I like to have a map of where I’m going. Admittedly, most of the time the map ends up being about as accurate as those medieval ones with Here Bee Dragones scribbled in the margins. But still. I like the illusion of control before I start.

**Also known as reading. And watching movies. And TV. It’s a rough job, but someone has to do it.