Separating Plot Lines

It’s no big surprise that I am still struggling with the middle of my WIP.  It seems no matter where I go with it, I dislike it, scrap it, then write something else (usually some maudlin poetry) just to keep the fires lit.  This vicious cycle has gone on for a few months now.  Needless to say, I am tired of it.

Angel Orchids

Being the determined person that I am, though, I refuse to give up.  I’m fully invested int his project and I cannot just let it go.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and reading and I think I may have come up with a solution.  I generally write in a linear fashion, creating the manuscript as I go. (Even though I have already know the ending, I haven’t written it yet.  It’s only documented in long-hand notes.)  I do this because it gives me a sense of clarity.  One day, I discovered this nice little feature of Scrivener which I never fully utilized before:  You can write out a chapter entirely in scenes.  Okay, admittedly, I have paid more attention to the writing than the finer points of the software I use, but that’s for another post.

This nifty feature, when selected in the compilation, will print the scenes in the chapter AND it allows for easy reorganizing.  Earlier this week, while rewriting a recent scene, the lightbulb went on: write the plot lines separately, then worry about weaving them together later!  What I’ve come up with is simple.  I created a folder called Plots.  Within this folder are the sub folders containing the main plot and the subplots.  Within those will be the scenes that formulate the individual plot lines.

I think, after all is written out, these scenes can be moved into chapters and weaved together more effectively.  I can also fine tune each plot without having to search for it within the chapters.  I’m hoping that this approach will offer me the clarity I need to survive the middle of my WIP and bring the project to fruition.

I have high hopes that this will get me back on track!  I’ll keep you posted.

-AH

Perfectly Placed Eye Lashes

I have a distinct appreciation for make-up, eye make-up to be exact.  I can get drawn in by the flawless application of color and lashes.  I look closely at the details. I focus on the closeups to see how the color was applied, where the shadows are, and how the lashes blend into the eyeliner.

smokeyeye1What has all this talk about eye make-up got to do with writing?  Nothing, on the surface; but if you think about it, it’s the same as writing a great story.  You draw your readers in with the flawless application of plot and characters.  Your readers will fall into the perfection of the scenes.  As a writer, I read other authors closely.  I scour the details, focus on the events, how the action is applied, and how the subplots blend into the main theme.  The meat of the story is in the details. It’s how I learn to write better.  It’s how I understand the structure.  The finishing touches, the satisfaction of the ending, reminds me of perfectly placed eyelashes.

Character Building

I have been working on this novel for years now and, every time I hit boulder in the road, I realize I have missed something.  Likely the reason for hitting the boulder.  This most recent boulder revealed that my MC has not been defined well enough to cause her to be passionate about this quest of hers.  I ask myself why she would be so willing, eager, to go along with the journey she must follow and I have discovered that there is no answer — in the book, that is.

So, now I have to figure out where to put this information and how to write it into the story.  Do I do a flashback or give her a present-day situation that expresses her interest and belief in the plot line?  After all, this is not exactly a normal plot line.  She is experiencing some situations that are somewhat paranormal.  Why would she believe in the paranormal?  Maybe I need to make a world where the paranormal is part of the normal?  Or maybe her world includes the paranormal?

While I grapple with yet another snag, I feel some excitement to the process.  After all, I am learning what will be needed on my next project.   And, for me, these questions indicate that I am on the right track.  I think that if I weren’t coming across these little discrepancies, the story would have no continuity.  As strange as that sounds on the surface, when looked at in depth, I am writing a plot line that fits my characters.  Thus it lets me know when those characters haven’t been as well-defined as they should be.

As a writer, we know our characters inside and out, backwards and forwards.  If we are smart, we have written their biographies.  And I did that for all the major characters.  The issue comes when we realize they are in the throes of the plot and we have forgotten to tell the audience how and why they are handling the given situation in a particular way.  For example, I know my MC is a determined and focused.  She is not easily deterred.  She also has “the sight” as her guide calls it. This means she understands and sees the world in a different way than most people.  But how does my audience know that?  So, I am thinking of adding in a dream sequence or a flashback to exhibit her unique perspective.  This should help the reader understand her later reactions to the plot turns.

Back to work…

-AH

Subplot Frustrations

I’ve been working on my novel this week. Yay!!  It feels really great to be writing and getting so much done.  However, it can be very frustrating writing 2 or 3 plot lines that must somehow coincide and be resolved at the end of the story.  This frustration likely stems from me fighting with myself.  But it is still very real.

I start writing about the main characters and forget that I have a couple of subplots going that are important to the story. Then I feel like I am back-tracking when I focus on writing the subplots. I know they are necessary to further the story and create a more rich novel. But I feel like I will never move forward. This feeling is ridiculous, of course, because each word written furthers the storyline. Nevertheless, I feel that way.

So, I thought about writing each plot line separately, then weaving them together. Not wanting to spend too much time on it if it is a crazy idea, I still thought it might be worth a try. Well, let me tell you, as soon as I started that tack, I knew I shouldn’t. There’s way too much to remember and trying to weave them together after the fact would be even more frustrating. These plot lines happen concurrently, so writing them separately is foolish.

I will just have to realize that, as frustrating as it might be, I am not losing ground when I return to a chapter or scene and add in subplot storyline. Either that, or I will have to learn to write the plotlines concurrently. Truth is, this experience of writing my first novel is a major learning experience. And, overall, I am having so much fun doing it.

-AH

Initially published on my concurrent blog site at andreahunter313.wordpress.com

Return to Real Life

After a nice long trip to visit with friends and family and celebrate our nephew’s wedding to a wonderful young woman, it is GREAT to be home. We are blessed to have such accommodating friends and family to stay with when we visit the mainland and we love them dearly, but living out of a suitcase for two weeks is taxing.

Since we’ve returned and readjusted to Kauai time and daily tasks, we have had a (somewhat expected) sadness. Our beloved cat, Hanaleila, passed away yesterday afternoon. She was 17-1/2 years old and she went fairly quickly. Thankfully, she waited until we got home to depart — we got to say good-bye. She will be sorely missed. I like to imagine her flying free and on to a new adventure.

With all this reality happening, my writing has been spotty at best. However, I think some of these experiences can be utilized, so I am writing them down to remember how they feel and what reactions I have had. Of course, I will always remember what it feels like to lose a loved one. There is no other feeling like it. The experiences of getting off the plane in California, driving to Monterey, watching the wedding, watching the people dancing, saying so long, getting off the plane back on Kauai, can be clouded over after time. It’s best to write them down while they are fresh.

I’ve read a lot about memoirs lately and, while I don’t think my life would ever be interesting enough to write a book about, I have learned that some of those moments bring on feelings and memories that can be used to move the characters along in their stories. So it makes sense to record those feelings for use later. After all, no matter where our characters roam, they are created by humans and likely to have human feelings. Now that I think about it, I suppose if I went through some of my earlier diaries, I could find plenty to fill up a character of almost any age.

So, while I am not working on my WIP at the moment, I am preparing for future character development by writing about experiences and how one can react to them. Life feeds art, this time.

-AH

Characters Must Grow

Sometimes, rather than writing, I allow myself to get caught up in the visuals.  I am doing that now.  Changing the look of my blog sites, adding widgets, changing themes.  It’s another way that I express my creative side. But I also think it’s important to allow my blog site to reveal who I am, as a writer, as a human being.  I change, I am not static. So, my blog sites change.

As I think about real life change, I realize that story characters change also.  I received a new issue of WRITER’S DIGEST the other day and one of the titles struck me: “The Science of Character Change.” The caption reads “If your protagonist doesn’t evolve, your story will die on the page.” Oh my gosh! How scary is that?

So, of course, I start to wonder if my heroine is too bland.  How can she grow and “evolve” during the course of the story?  And all sorts of scenarios start to spill out.  Then, there’s the antagonist.  I have struggled with his outcome.  But I realize I have a few different ways he can change also. So I begin to relax a bit.

Once calmed down again, I remember that I know that characters have to change in some way during the course of the story. It’s the natural course of events.  Of course, there are those characters that won’t change, but the main characters must.  Their development makes the story real, plausible.

There are so many facets to writing a good story that others want to read.  It’s a wonder that any of us write at all. Character growth and plot development, sub plots, continuity, tying up loose ends, editing, re-editing.  A good story idea is not easily put to the page.  The thought and planning that goes into the story idea to manifest it on the page is daunting, phenomenal, exciting, gratifying, and enjoyable.  We writers love what we do and it’s so worth the effort. Keep on writing!

-AH

(also posted on http://andreahunter313.com)