I was going to post this yesterday … but life, as they say, can get in the way.
I’m beginning what I hope will be a weekly tradition, “Writing Quote Wednesday” (However, today it is writing quote Thursday – don’t hold me to the exact details.)
My first quote:
“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
Yesterday, at my Read and Critique group, we were talking about plot and the methods we each go through to uncover the salient plot points along the way. Mr. Bradbury’s quote caught my attention and sent me pondering the plot-filled universe writers inhabit.
The Best Part
I love when I’m writing along and it’s as though the book is playing out like a movie in front of my eyes. Magically, the words appear on the page as the scene appears before my eyes. Plot points come into being, organically and without thought. It’s exciting … the characters and their dilemmas draw us along the story they want to tell.
The Worst Part
When it feels like pulling teeth. Hours are spent with my notebook, playing “what if” and I begin scenes that go nowhere. Or, I write a scene and realize it just doesn’t work, that it is leading the characters down the wrong path. Each step along the way is slow, laborious. A page takes an hour to write.
As I reflect on Mr. Bradbury’s quote I love the sense that the characters control the writing. We as writers are merely the observers of what the characters want to show us. In my current novel, I knew a few of the big plot points; the incredible destinations my characters would move toward. But, the smaller footsteps, those building blocks of a story, were discovered as I wrote the rough draft.
End in Mind
Now that I have a complete draft, and know the end, those building blocks can be shifted, adjusted, or deleted. I do think there is a power in writing to the end before worrying if the plot makes sense. I’m reminded of a quote by Michelangelo,
“Every block of stone has a statue inside and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
Writers create the stone itself and then find the statue inside.
In a subsequent post I’ll talk about the difference in “plotters” and “pantsers” However the gems of plot happen, either because of magic or painful step by step process, this roller coaster is never dull.
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