Daily Archives: January 5, 2010

Ann Dee: Plotty by Nature?

As a writer reading, I came to realize the obvious: the subject of the dream is the dreamer.

–Toni Morrison

Hi. Don’t ever go to a bootcamp class. Ever.

Also, I am not plotty. Are you plotty? Can you tell me how to get plotty? Except I don’t want to write about plots because I hate thinking about them. I’d rather think about character and food. I’ve always said, always told my students, always sort of believed that character comes first. Character first.


Is it true?

Have you ever had a writing friend who has like seven novels mapped out in their head. Seven freaking novels. And each novel is complex and intricate and builds on the novel before it?¬† And there is intrigue and romance. And in book three someone dies. Maybe you don’t have a writing friend like that but you are like that (Amy?). And if you are like that, do you think plot first? Do you lay in bed thinking about stories, action, people from time to time of course, but mainly plot plot plot? If so, we should talk. I need your help.

Here’s why:

Recently I’ve embarked on a plotty novel. I wrote the first thirty pages a while ago and then took step back and realized that I had set up something sort of complicated. Something I could probably never figure out. For awhile I tried my method of “just write the character and they write the story for you.”¬† But it didn’t work. At all.

Okay, think plotty.

I decided to map it out first. That’s what I should do right? If I’m going in a mystery/plotty direction? Know where I end before I start?

So I wrote down a synopsis for myself. It took like ten pages. By the end of it, I felt relieved. I had finally figured it out. But then when I went to start actually writing the book, it felt stale and mechanical. I had a hard time getting the voices down and I was sort of bored. Ugh.

Maybe I didn’t have it worked out. Maybe that was a lame plot. So I started over. I decided I would write on a big poster the entire novel in clusters. I had in my head that this would be the answer. Then I couldn’t find any poster board or markers with tips.

Cam showed me a computer program that helps you set up different plot lines, see where they peak/intersect/resolve. I was so confused. Fascinated. Glad he understood. But thoroughly confused. And my brain hurt which is never good.

I stewed about it, worried about it, talked about it, thought about it, sat in bed about it until I realized . . . nothing. I still suck at writing plots.

So then I went back to my old method of writing people. This means I have trashed over fifty pages of writing. I’ve now discovered three characters that I’m interested in. Three characters¬† that may or may not fit into the plot I originally started with. Probably not l. I may be doomed to always write characters who rule me and the story. I know some people can control both and they do it beautifully. How? Do they use computer programs? Put plot maps on walls? Write intricate synopses? Or does it take a different kind of brain that I can never have?

I think that is all. But really, if you have seven novels in your head right now, please tell me if you’ve always been that way. I want to know.


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