Plot…plot…plot

Harrumph.

Can you guess what I’m working on?

The good thing about writing a sequel is that the protagonist is already pretty well set, both in outlook and in voice (there are changes in Connor, however…a lot of changes). There is, however, a whole new setting, a whole new dynamic, and a whole new set of conflicts and antagonists…and that makes it fun.

Taking all the ideas and subplots and subtexts swirling in my head and turning them into a plot both engaging and useable is, err, challenging. I’ve mentioned before, I am not one of those people who sees the entire plot for a story first, then fills in all the details. I see the characters and the details, then build the structure of a plot.

I know, I know…that’s a bit like buying a Christmas tree to support and fit all of the ornaments and lights in the basement, rather than buying a tree and just pulling out what will fit it. But, hey, that’s the way I do it…and I have a shit-ton of ornaments and lights that need somewhere to hang!

There is a great deal I want to cover in this new story. Wrath & Tears was intimate and personal to Connor and Oz. This next story will still be intimately about Connor, but will be taking him into a world and a society bigger and more far-reaching than just dockside. The plot has to reflect that while still following him on the personal journey he needs to, essentially, save him from himself.

It also has to let me develop and communicate the themes that are at the heart of the story…and that ain’t as easy as it sounds (at least not to me).

How do I do that? I explore. A lot. I write (handwrite, actually) several summaries and experiments on the major arcs I want to cover, each time incorporating more and more info from the previous versions until everything starts to hang together. It’s a very iterative process, one that evolves and changes a great deal as I pretty much continually adjust the crises and characters/entities involved.

To me, this method is kinda fun. I get to experiment with different ways of screwing over my characters, as well as different ways of them screwing themselves. I also start to see possibilities and convolutions in the characters that I hadn’t necessarily considered. That’s even more fun!

At any rate, after the last major plot summaries are written (one for the major, overall plot-arc and one for each of the major subplots), I finally get to breathe. The writing of the actual story starts to look much more real to me. When all I have is a semi-amorphous, undefined cloud of ideas and conflicts, that story looks awful far away. When that cloud resolves itself into something intelligible, it’s no longer pushing a Sisyphean boulder up the hill, it’s taking the last steps to hit the summit.

I’m at that point…sorta. I need a few days to nail down the subplot summaries, then I hit the top. Hopefully by the middle of next week. And after that? After that it is finalizing the characters (how I do that is a topic for another post) and creating the initial outline/scene-list.

If things go well, I should be out of the prep-work weeds and writing the story itself sometime around Christmas or New Years. Sooo…I’m right on schedule with my original three-month timeline for this process of planning and prep.

I know, I know…I said I wanted to do it quicker, start the writing sooner. Unfortunately, the administrative/logical/planning side of me knows the creative/slacker side all too damn well…

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