by Jackie King
Brainstorming for plot points is another of those writing conundrums: I love plotting—I hate plotting.
Friends sometimes help. In an email to a colleague, I mentioned I was struggling over which type of book to write next, suspense or cozy. This writer/lawyer called me that afternoon and said, “An idea for your next book just came to me, and it's about Grace.” (The protagonist in my cozy series.) My heart sank a bit, because I'd almost decided on writing a suspense novel.
Then my writing-pal outlined his thoughts. I liked them, but still wasn't sure if that was the route I wanted to take. He added, “Don’t think I’ll feel bad if you don’t use this idea. It just came to me and I wanted to pass it on.”
I don't write religious/inspirational books, but I do believe in prayer and in listening to guidance from God. For this reason, I carefully considered my friend’s suggestion. As he and I talked on the phone, the story began to grow arms and legs, and when I mentioned these. He agreed they were good.
The next morning, when I was my busiest, plot points began coming in a way that doesn’t usually happen to me. Most often I have to struggle, and with much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Great plot ideas, scenes, twists and turns, seem to come at the most inconvenient time for me. (I think this is because my body is busy, and my mind relaxed.) I had just showered and needed to dress, then tidy up my apartment for the cleaner who could come at any minute. If something is cluttered, i.e. the bathroom counter, the kitchen sink counter, areas that need dusting, etc., she won’t clean that spot. House rules.
I’d already spent more time writing than I had available, and the duties of daily living beckoned. So I had the following argument with myself:
“These ideas are so vivid, they’ll stay right here in my head until I tidy up. This apartment must be cleaned if I'm to stay on schedule!” Thus I lectured myself as I finished drying my feet.
Then a still voice from somewhere deep inside said, "That won't happen. It never does for you." Whether this was my better self, or a higher power, I don't know. But I did know that it would be wise to follow the advice.
So, wearing only my towel, I went to the computer and began to type. (Luckily that was only six steps. I live in one of those apartment complexes for Independent Seniors, and have learned to love simplicity.) I keyed in all of the essentials necessary to capture on paper the ideas that flowed inside my head.
I'm so glad that I listened! I have enough plot points for at least three chapters, and a good start on the new novel.
I’m leaving you with two writing truths:
The law of creativity demands immediate obedience. When ideas come, write them down immediately, or you'll lose them.
A blank page can only be fixed with words.
· When there’s no inspiration, sit down at your computer, put your fingers on the keys, and write anyway. No matter how bad your work seems to you at the time, any prose can be edited and improved.