So the dreaded planning stage has actually proved helpful. I was talking to a school mum the other day and she mentioned a book she had recently read, she said it had a fantastic premise but really had nowhere to go after that, she’d enjoyed the read but the flaw stood out.
I thought the rest of the day and realised that was exactly the problem I had with the story I had planned for November, and was also (one of the many) reason I was struggling so with the planning. There really was no plot at all.
I sat at the computer on Wednesday, totally stumped. What was I going to write? There were four days until November started and I honestly thought I was going to have to skip it this year. But I really didn’t want to. So I read the paper online, panicked, almost called BMan to appeal for help.
And then bam. A news story that I read and said – what if? – what happened after that? why? And a character name popped into my head, and another one. There needs to be 3, of course, him, he needs to be there too. I stream of conscious wrote the idea out – there was story, there was conflict, there was crisis points, there were 3 characters that are different from each other but have similar roots to the dramas in their lives.
I started planning, yes I did. I started with the character sketches from the Snowflake method I added in a category to establish the inner, interpersonal and physical conflict needed for each character. One was easy, one took a bit, I was making him far too nice, once I roughed him up a bit it was easier. But last night the third had me stumped, I had the same problem as the previous story idea, a great reason for her, a great set up but no depth, I couldn’t see her. I would have realised this far too late if I hadn’t been doing the planning exercise, she just would have been a weak character and would have frustrated me no end.
It was late (it’s always late, so sorry BMan, Novembers are a challenge for you too!) and so I decided to call it a night. Hopped in the shower, the story running all through my brain. And then it came to me, how to solve the 3rd character’s problems and the realisation she doesn’t need a crisis point, hers starts the manuscript, the rest of her story arc is getting past the drama. I had to go back to the computer and quickly type it out before I forgot it all . The world needs some sort of shower proof computing system, I often solve writing problems in the shower!
So 3 characters: Helen’s crisis starts the novel and then we see her deal with the fall out, realise what she thought she wanted was actually her worst nightmare, and start to rebuild her life. Evie’s crisis comes in the middle, forced into finally making decisions, her life that she hated is forced into change and she gradually starts to build a new life. Walt’s crisis comes right at the end. His life is on a gradual decline throughout the story until his crisis point.
There’s still time to do some more planning. I know I need a couple of minor characters, I know I need an ex boyfriend, a best friend, a husband and a son but they are shadowy at the moment, none of them have names yet.
But it’s better, I stand a chance of getting something half decent out of it now!
I may do a flash fiction from one of the side stories as a warm up, bring on Sunday November 1!