26 June 2020

The Writing Genie

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Here's a fun writing prompt that popped into my inbox today:
If only there were a writing genie. Over on The Write Life Facebook community, member Traci S. started a great discussion: “If you could have one wish from the writing genie about your writing, what would that be?!” We’d love to hear your writing wish! Join the community and chime in.
 -- From The Write Life email newsletter, 6/26/2020

I'm going to go ahead and rub the magic lamp and ask the writing genie to help me out with making a plot that I'll actually follow. 

It's not that I don't like the flexibility to change my mind or wander off; the problem is that I meander with no sense of direction and end up five days off course lost in the mountains when I should've followed the road through the woods to Grandmother's house. 

I tend to write based on feelings, and this lets a lot of stuff happen organically, like dialogue and characterization. But when I write based on a hunch or a vibe I get that propels me forward, as exciting as it can be, it often derails the coherent plot I've struggled to plan out. 

I haven't quite figured out how to create a plot outline that allows for safe offroad exploration. My outlines aren't super-detailed but they at least have a checklist of tings that should happen...but when I write in a state of free-for-all, it's so easy to miss the few things I do have to check off. 

Making a plot is hard enough for me, anyway. I come up with characters easily but I don't know what to have them do in between the items on my plot checklist, and that's where the wandering off happens. At best the story goes in a better direction than before, or there's some sort of wondrous epiphany or shiny new idea that propels me forward. At worst, the pacing gets all messed up and the story becomes mud. 

I'm working on Son of the Siren right now and it's the first time I properly plotted out a book. But now that I've started the middle section of the novel, all of a sudden I've created new characters and suddenly I have to give them something to do, and it doesn't fit my outline at all! If there is a way to take these new additions and bend them to fit my plot, I haven't figured this out yet. So I'm going to wish on the writing genie's lamp for help with sticking to my plot and not letting the book run away with itself...because I'd like to finish it soon! 

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