This will never become a book.

2013 October 29 Tuesday

Plot Recipe

Filed under: writing — Tags: — kdefg @ 14:09

I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo for years.  My first year, I began the month with a blank page and no plan, and I generated characters and scenes out of thin air.  It was awesome! But it was not a book.  My second year, I began the month with a theme and some vague ideas, and I stalled very quickly.  I don’t even remember much of what I produced back then.  Even after reaching my 50K word goal two summers ago, I still have not produced a novel.

I finally joined a local group of writers who meet monthly to discuss The Craft.  I started to see the wisdom of making an outline and thinking about the importance of plot and structure in building a story.  I found books and articles and blogs that all presented their own spin on the idea that a story must have a structure.  Some of the focus was on movies or television episodes, so the templates might not work ideally for a novel, but the concepts are all there.  A story has ingredients, and they come together in a fairly common mixture.  I was afraid at first that my outline would restrict me, like a template or a formula which produces the same bland thing each time. Now I like to think of it as a recipe, and the results can vary with the cooks.

One benefit of being part of the NaNoWriMo community is in being exposed to more resources.  The @NaNoWriMo twitter feed gave me this gem today:

Our #NaNoCoach this week, @teribrownwrites, mentioned a post about feeding the muse by @KristenLambTX. Find it here:

And with that link, I was off on an adventure.  I discovered more info about plot points, much of what I’ve read elsewhere, but it is finally starting to sink in.  The rest of the blog is full of similar inspiration. I now have a synopsis of my story and a list of scenes ready to tackle.

Is it November yet?




2013 October 9 Wednesday

Turn on a Dime

Filed under: reality, synchronicity — kdefg @ 23:16

I used to write on this blog about reality.  I used to think a lot about the nature of reality.  I used to have time to ponder metaphysics and illusions and dreams. Then life became more mundane, and reality was simply real life.  I ran out of things to blog about.  Until today…

PROLOGUE:  Today started out simply enough.  I had the day off work and looked forward to spending time in front of the television catching up on a backlog of shows on the DVR.  I had a pile of laundry ready for sorting and washing.  I had websites to read, books to read, mail to read.  By noon, I had barely made a dent in most of those plans, having spent the morning reading forums online.  It was time for that cup of coffee I had promised myself.

INTRO:  I wanted to walk to Starbucks the way I used to, back in my days of unemployment. My feet have been hurting me more since I’ve been spending so much time on them — walking to work, standing at work, walking home again.  I dug into the back of a closet and found an old pair of hiking shoes, and marveled at how solid they felt compared to my worn-out sneakers. I put a load of shirts and socks into the washing machine, then headed out of the house.

SET-UP:  The walk was refreshing and immediately familiar. This was the path where I thought about the characters and setting of the last novel I worked on more than a year ago, during Camp NaNoWriMo last summer and again last November.  Lately I’ve been reading about ways to structure a story and how to create an outline, feeling more like a writer than ever, and looking forward to a new NaNoWriMo — my first as a plotter instead of a pantser.

FORESHADOWING:  When I reached Starbucks, a sign on the front door greeted me with this message:  “There’s a story in every coffee.” As it so happened, I was wearing a shirt I got from the American Red Cross which says, “Live a Story. Give a Story. Donate.”  In the parking lot out front, I had just passed a car with a bumper sticker which said, “writer.”  I believe the Universe was trying to get my attention.

PLOT TWIST:  Inside, I paid for my coffee and a muffin.  The cashier handed me $1.10 in change.  As I shifted the cash from one hand to the other, the dime slipped through my fingers.  I was intending to drop it into the tip jar anyway, but I couldn’t figure out where it had landed. It wasn’t on the counter or the floor, nor was it inside the pastry bag with my muffin.  The dime had vanished.  Maybe it fell into the display case, and maybe a worker would find it at the end of the day, but it was gone now.

CLIMAX:  I returned home.  Before settling down in front of the television to enjoy my coffee and muffin, I checked on the laundry.  I transferred the load of clean wet shirts and socks from the washer to the dryer.  My routine for this task includes clearing the lint traps and wiping the water seal around the door of the front-loader machine.  This time there was something besides hair and suds and water within the folds of that rubber gasket: a dime.  A shiny dime.

EPILOGUE:  A spooky feeling passed through me. For just a moment, I could believe that the Universe had teleported my dime from a shop three blocks away.  In the next fleeting moment, I wondered whether that would make an interesting premise for a new story.  My logical brain intervened and tried to explain away that dime as a stowaway in a clothing pocket — not from the most recent load, but the previous load of jeans.  Ridiculous! Who would believe such a story?

Reality has layers again.

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