Lin Wang asked: When starting a new novel, how do you turn your ideas (characters, images, phrases) into a coherent story? Any advice for writers who want to find a balance between outlining and writing without any plans?
Elizabeth asked: How do you pull a plot out of characters?
Where does plot come from? For many writers it feels like a rabbit plucked from a hat. If you’re lucky it’s there. It it’s there, it’s magic.
Over my last several posts I’ve posed questions to help build characters’ inner journeys. Journeys require steps and each step it strongest when it has its own delineated meaning.
A plot is built of pieces too; pieces which for convenience we might call scenes. But how do you pluck them from the hat and make sure that they’re alive when you do?
If your novel is the plot-driven sort, say a mystery or thriller, the trick may feel easy. Each step your protagonist must take to discover a killer or save the world is the basis for a scene. Build into it a step in the inner journey and you have a scene that will feel powerful.
But what if you don’t have that easy framework? What if your story is at first nothing but ideas, intentions, a vague sense that stuff is going to happen and your protagonist will change? What if the hat is truly empty? [Read more…]