Monday, February 13, 2012

Deciding What to Write

Very few of us have difficulty deciding what genre to write or even what book to write. Most of us have book ideas running around like mice on a barn floor through our brains. But lots of us wake up on Monday morning, or sit down at our computer after a long day's work, and wonder what the heck should come next in our books.

Personally, I'm turning into a plotter. I used to be a pantser. Then I sort of loosely plotted my pantsing. Now, after writing my last three books using a detailed outline, I'm sort of in love with always knowing what comes next!

But if you're not a plotter and don't have a lovely outline sitting beside your computer telling you the next step your characters should do you know what comes next?

Well, you can use the action/reaction/decision formula. If the last scene you wrote was an "action" (there's a fire in the barn) then the next scene you should write is a reaction/consequence scene. (The horses die.) If the last scene you wrote was a consequence scene (the horses die), then your next scene should be a decision scene. (The hero decides he's had enough.) And if the last scene was a decision...(hero decides he's had enough) then the next scene should be an action...He leaves town.

There's a fire in the barn. (Action)
The horses die. (Consequence/reaction)
The hero decides he's had enough. (Decision)
He leaves town. (Action)

If you're not that much of a diehard on action/reaction/decision. You could do the old could/might/must and should list.

What could happen here?
What might happen?
What HAS TO HAPPEN (must) to make the plot work?
What should happen? (As in ... Is it time for a little romance? A kiss? Some suspense? Or the external conflict to get a little page time?)

Doodle. Play a bit. Read the last thing you wrote and ask yourself what could happen, what might happen, what has to happen, what should happen?

If that doesn't work, do a list of 20. What are 20 fun things that could happen right now? What are 20 romantic things that could happen right now? What are 20 suspenseful things that could happen right now?

Let your brain run free. And don't stop at what looks like a good answer. Force yourself to go to 20 and see if you don't come up with something wonderful...something that might take the book to a whole new level.

And remember my mantra...enjoy the process! If it isn't fun...why are you doing this? It is work, and craft is serious business. But you can still have fun!

Happy Monday



Author Guy said...

My last chapter was pretty much self-contained, my next chapter has to start itself. I have lots of people in motion and many plot threads to tie off. The problem is choosing the one that will advance the story the best way at this time. Unfortunately the best one I see is filled with lesser characters getting a moment in the sun and I haven't developed their characters in my own head yet.

Susan said...

You could have a fun day doing character studies on them! I always love a day that I dedicate to figuring out a character. It's like playing for me.


kris said...

I always like asking one of my kids for a suggestion. They have a totally different take on things and have come up with the perfect solution more than once.

Susan said...

I put so many kids in my stories that asking a kid what should come next is a very natural strategy! LOL