For the past several weeks I have been editing both Karda and Hunter, books one and two of the Adalta Series. I don’t plot before I start writing, but in this editing process, I’ve realized the problems that causes me. Extraneous plot elements that don’t go anywhere—just kind of leave annoying hang-in-the-air spots—so my story starts looking a little like my car did when I parked it under a tree full of birds. Well, maybe not that bad. But when I have to figure out what to do with them —those stray ideas, it seems like it is.
Niece Abbie (who has to listen to a lot of "What do you think about this?" And "What if I do that?" kinds of questions.) informed me that the epilogue to Hunter wasn’t working, and I needed to write a new one. In the moments between adding a comma here and deleting one there, correcting spelling and grammar, and, of course, rewriting and rewriting every other sentence, I’ve been thinking about Falling, the final book in the Adalta series. I decided to do some thinking about how I write. What my process is? How I develop the story. How I organize my thinking—or don’t. (Mostly don’t.)
As I stared at my toes over the top of the laptop in my lap trying to decide what to write in this new epilogue to Hunter, I decided to track how I write the chapter to maybe solve some of the problems that not-plodding, excuse me, plotting causes.
My indispensable writing partner and sister, Alice (remember her? The prize-winning author of mid-grade novel River of Cattle) knows what she needs to write in every chapter. She meticulously plots her book out before she writes a single word.
So I thought about doing that for this epilogue. Then I remembered. This is what happens when I do that. I decide what is going to happen. Here are the characters. These are the challenges they'll face. Here’s how they meet them. And so forth. And I go away, thinking "This time I’ve got it. I know what I need to do. I know where this story is going" And I carefully write it all down and start writing or fixing something to eat or (not vacuuming. I never vacuum.)
But, when I’ve written down that plod—plot, I’m finished. And when I say finished, I mean really finished. It’s already done. I’ve written it. It’s as if the act of writing the plot down on paper (or this screen) is the same as writing the book. I don’t have anything new to write about. It’s old. I’ve got another idea. Instead of this, I could do that, and I never look at my carefully constructed plot again.
Is it because I’m an Aries?
Now I need to get back to writing my new epilogue for Hunter. If I have further insights about How I Write, I’ll add them. If not. Well. Maybe this post is finished, and a new idea will come along to write about.
There’s a poem on my Poetry page, called Sometimes They, that describes How I Write. And it’s not nearly as long as this post.
Next Tuesday I'll post Chapter 13 of Karda. Look for it.