Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Plotting Method: Toothpicks and Spider Silk

Has anyone created a Tetris-style game with cats?

So, before we get to the meat of what I'm not going to say today (ooh, *foreshadowing*), we have a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

As you may or may not have seen yesterday, Carolyn Crane is leaving the Word Whores blog. (Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth.) No, she's not moving to Timbuktu, so she'll still be around - just moving into a different focus. But this leaves what we like to call a HOLE.

Could you be the whore to fill that hole?

If so, we're taking applications here!

We just posted this last night and applications are already coming in, which is really very cool.



This week's topic is (kill me now): Brainstorming the Plot: With whom, when, etc.

See, you all just happened to catch me on the weekend that I'm cranking to finish my novel in progress. I haven't talked about it here much, but it's a modernization of Phantom of the Opera. It takes place at Santa Fe Opera, with more sex and lots of creepy paranormal occurrences. This is the eSerial I sold on proposal to eKensington. It's due April 1 (no fooling, ha ha) and I'm nearly done.

Nearly, as in less than 7,000 words left.

I took a holiday on Friday, when I had about 12,000 words left and figured I'd write 4K/day over the three-day weekend and be DONE.

But no.

I got in 2K Friday and 1.7K yesterday - and that was working on the book All Freaking Day.

This happens to me because I slow way down at the end of a book. Because I don't plot. Really, I can't plot. I don't get how other writers know what's going to happen before they write it. It sounds really cool and MUCH easier to do it that way, but it's just not how I do it.

So this "Brainstorming the Plot" topic is just a little taunting reminder. A little salt in my wound. Thank you very much.

Because I write for discovery (a term I love because it makes my process sound so thoughtful), when I reach the end, all my threads and bits of foreshadowing come together and I'm standing there, holding a bunch of these squiggly bits, waiting for them to weave together. Last night I told a friend it feels like knitting with toothpicks and spider silk.

That's really what it comes down to - waiting for them. I write a little bit. Things nudge along. I go back and noodle an earlier section. I go back to the end, write a bit more.

Writing this way takes a great deal of trust. I have to continue to believe that my subconscious knows the story and will reveal all in due time. It's that "due time" part that can strain my patience. That's when I compose snarky blog posts about the term "plotting" being a personal insult.


But it's okay. This is my gig and I'm (more or less) at peace with that. I'm off to coax the story into place just a bit more.

Just wait until you see the final web.


  1. Ooh, I LOVE it - now I "write for discovery" too LOL. Nice to have a pretty name for my ahem process. Thank you...

  2. Toothpicks -- useful for knowing when the baking is done and for propping one's eyelids wide whilst waiting for things to be done.


    1. lalalalala ~covers ears~ I cannot contemplate arachnids or the things shooting from their orifices! ~rocks back and forth~


  3. I can't plot to save my life. I usually have a general idea and see where it leads to. One time that lead to the heroine hooking up with the bad guy.... Still wondering how and if I can fix that story.

    1. easy - redeem the bad guy! your instinct is leading you there for a reason. :D

  4. The only brainstorming I do is on my world. Not the characters. Not the plot. I figure out what the rules of my world are decide on an event (you know, that what if thing) and work around that. The rest is truly a discovery.

    I'd like to think I have an ending in mind when I start the story, but for the most part, it changes too many times to count.

  5. I love the 'toothpicks and spidersilk' thing, Jeffe. Some days writing does feel like that. Other days, it's hacking my way through a dense jungle with a butter knife. I love your term 'writing for discovery', too. I don't know what's going to happen in my stories, but I'm dying to find out.

  6. Yes - I get the jungle/butter knife one, too. Usually earlier in the story. "Writing for discovery" isn't my term, but I forget where I read it! Still, it's a pleasant-sounding term for a sometimes agonizing process!

  7. Ha, I like how you word that. Discovery... :)

  8. Sometimes the story threads get so convoluted I pull out the bamboo skewers to make enough room.
    Glad to see I'm not the only one pulled along by my characters' story