When The Plot Dies

      What do you do when the plot dies?
      When you’ve got a whole world filled with colorful characters, fascinating customs, 3000 years of history (at least), and intrigue galore… yet somehow, as you’re sitting down to put the “plot” of the book together, nothing quite manifests.
      I scream. A lot. Loudly.
      And then, I sit down with a notebook, a pen, some music, and I fix it.
      Or attempt to fix it.
      And I write, I think, I curse myself for not being more productive and then forgive myself because working on the story counts, damn it!
      I am not on a time crunch. I do not have a deadline.
      With that luxury, I can spend time drawing out the plot, finding intricacies or holes that need to be pared down or mended. Figuring out which bits (and *ahem* clichés) from the original draft (circa 1998) are workable and which need to go, deciding that there is surprising depth in this thread, that I would never ever have realized back then.
      That’s the process.
      That’s the magic.
      I think. I write. I think some more. I cross out stuff and make weird notes and draw circles to other things and sometimes even high-light or use colors!
      So, this is why I don’t keep a writing blog anymore. I have very little insight. I stumble through the whole process, I make mistakes, I learn from them (or don’t, and make them again, hah!), and eventually, I have something I am proud to say I have written.
      Maybe knowing other writers struggle will help someone else.
      You would laugh to see my notebooks.
      I do a lot of association, a lot of free writing brainstorming – but I always have a separate spot (section, notebook, file) for specific “in-line” things.
      In fact, this is what I carry around with me presently, as I work on putting together background info and unraveling 16 years of vague notes & theories & ideas.

  1. A 5-subject spiral notebook, über generic.
  2. (This is divided into Characters, Map/Land Info, Timeline, Language, and Other)

  3. A classic black & white composition book.
  4. (This is riddled with bookmarks made of diced up notecards to label the sections. I am using this as my masterlist for the main language of the world. I’ve got a big section for root words and I’m building it steadily… why? Who knows. It’ll probably never come up… but… that’s me. Thorough.)

  5. A polka dot composition book.
  6. (This is my free write, ideas, figuring-stuff-out-on-paper notebook. When all other notebooks stay home, this one goes with me because who knows when a moment of brilliance will strike???)

  7. A gel ink pen (SIGNO by Uniball).
  8. A mechanical pencil with twist-up eraser (Pentel Twist-Erase CLICK.7)
  9. A porous-tip pen (Papermate Flair in Black [m])
  10. A clipboard. (It is blue & swirly!)

      Are you surprised to find I do so much low-tech prep?
      Because I am a hardcore tech girl.
      I LOVE me some Scrivener and my Google Drive and my cell phone and my work laptop and my PC and…so forth.
      BUT… I am always at my most productive, least distracted, best when I am away from the computer…alone with my thoughts, my pen, my music… It always helps.
      And maybe my books aren’t great, but maybe they are, and either way… they’re mine. My brain, my heart, my soul, my thoughts.
      And when the plot dies, nothing short of my blood/sweat/tears (or ink/paper/focus) will bring it back.
Signed, Josie
Note: Image is “Gravestone” by (CWWGary) from SXC.hu

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