Friday, September 18, 2009

The Book Plotted Itself - Latayne C. Scott (guest blogger)

Okay, I mentioned to you all that I'd asked some friends of mine, "How do you know an idea you have is 'novel-worthy'? What is your process for taking a germ of an idea and turning it into a novel?"

My good friend Latayne C. Scott (we are part of a wonderful six author blog -
Novel Matters), author of Latter-Day Cipher (and the non-fiction The Mormon Mirage), shot me an e-mail with a remarkable sketch of how she took a handful of characters she loved and turned them into a book.

It's interesting to note that she began, not with a story gem, but with characters. Imaginary people who, when she woke up in the morning are already wide awake and waving at her, ready to get to work. It's lovely when that happens, but problematic when the author has no story for them to jump into (and dangerous if Luigi Pirandello is to believed).
Latayne said,

"Here's how I plotted a novel recently:

I had the characters in mind. I started with, "What if?" for each of them.

Then I said, "Well, if that, then this...."

"Which would certainly lead to this......"

"And no one would expect this, but would see how it could have, and should have happened......"

"And then this would have to happen to deal with that...."

"And for me to be satisfied with the ending, I'd have to resolve these issues."

And it plotted itself, no kiddin' !"
This is a wonderful breakdown of the keys to good plotting. It is a logic thread that can sometimes get lost in the myriad of layers and subtext. Great novels have plots we can follow and understand logically. This grounds us as readers, and helps us trust the author when the story goes in an unexpected direction, or gets emotional, or tense, or whatever else happens.
I love this simple, effective, no nonsense sketch. We should all print it out and put near our computers or our bookshelves!
I bid you good writing.

1 comment:

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

This is so timely for me! I'm sitting down right now to plot out a new story. Thank you!

Have a great weekend!