Saturday, April 5, 2014

Lost in Plotland

You've been there, I am certain.  You have a great story that's developing well.  The words flow easily.  The scenes can be conjured up on the spot, and the dialogue seems realistic (well, as "realistic" as fictional speech can be*)  You kicked it off with a great premise and the story development using flashback and foreshadowing are working.  Things are going wonderfully.

And then an idea occurs to you (and when doesn't it?) - something not in the original plan for your story, but which is really, really interesting and/or fun and abruptly takes the story off on a tangent.  Sure, you say to yourself, this brilliant new subplot might add a little more length to the story, but why not if it pays off in the end?

With that in mind and the confidence of hubris, you begin to flesh ot the subplot with bit more description,  add a character or two, scribble a bit of explanatory dialogue, and frame the whole thing in already established settings. You roll along, feeling wonderful about the way things are going to go, quite unaware that your unconscious writer's brain, aka "Muse" disliked where you were originally heading and wanted to divert you.

Suddenly you find your plotting vehicle has gone twenty miles off the road you so confidently set upon and cruising in territory not completely thought through.  In a panic you try to bend the plot back to where you thought you'd left the road, but it is no longer where you thought it was.  You are lost!  Panic sets in as you figuratively cast about, searching for a path that will take you back without success.  Every twist and turn you attempt confuses matters more. The plot compass isn't working any more.  In desperation, you try diagrams, outlines, chronological lists, everything you can think of to bring clarity to your story, but nothing seems to work. The draft is such a complete mess and beyond redemption that you contemplate dumping the entire subplot, but the new story is in YOUR head and so interwoven  that you cannot ignore it.  It would be like revising history.  No, there must be a better way to align the stars and plot your course.  There must be some magic that will clear the confusing mist away.  There must be.

And it is called editing.

*Real conversation, usually transcribes to sound like the babbling of rude idiots


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