When I wrote my earliest stories, I never plotted out ahead of time. I just wrote by the seat of my pants, seeing where that took me. It worked for the stories I wrote, but didn’t help me long term. Nope, I didn’t get really writing until I started taking the time to learn to plot better.
See, as a short story writer, plot was a thing, but it wasn’t a “now I have to write over 65 000 words” thing. I said what I had to say and then was done. Sure, I can write novellas and be happy, especially when I write the erotica that I love, but I want to write actual novels, like my writing idols. Yes, I have authors that I adore their work, and I want to write like that. I have stories in me. Were they good enough to be full novels? I needed to learn more about plotting to be sure.
Enter the book Save the Cat Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. It’s based on a book for screenwriters. I learned so much valuable information on how to plot out a novel.
Well, I’ve made great progress on the YA (young adult) novel I’ve been writing and I’m over halfway done my first draft. However, I stalled out on my erotica/romance novel. I was having trouble figuring out where to go, and it was about 1/3 done. I liked what I had, but had nowhere to go.
Then I realized...I was writing it backwards. Much of what I had in the early bit belonged in the second half. My second half conflict belonged in the middle (or just before it), and the nearly complete middle section should be sprinkled about and stretched out over the entire middle portion from my setup to my ending.
My biggest challenge in this early stage of writing has been taking a short story and making it a full novel. How does that idea get to be an epic adventure? Later today I’ll be using my cork board and cards to lay out my story in a physical way, so I don’t have to scan through the over 60 pages I’ve already written to find things. Then I can use more cards to brainstorm and filll in the missing pieces, but I already have some good ideas of how it all fits again.
My secret? I lay quietly under a light blanket for warmth and close my eyes, covering them if the room is bright. I breathe in a quiet and relaxed way and I let my mind wander or go still. The story usually starts unfolding for me when I do this, and it’s how I transition between stories in the morning. I let one story close and the other open. Now, I’m a practiced meditator, so letting my mind go still is easy.
You’ll need to sort out for yourself how to open yourself to ideas. I learned a few different tricks. Some I use daily, like the laying quietly, others I do less often or only when I need. Even in my morning meditation, before I write, if my mind brings up my story I let it passively unfold. I don’t direct it, I let it happen. My ending for the YA book came that way this morning. It works wonders. The book almost writes itself, and I get to watch it unfold.
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.