First off, I’m super happy to be on day 4 of consecutive Showing Up, which is the fancy, cool, hip way to say “writing.” I won’t go so far as to say I’m in the habit of Showing Up yet, but I’m definitely on the right track.
Anyway, the method that’s been working for me is to write a scene, any scene, regardless of how it impacts the plot. Or if I have no plot at all. Pantsers everywhere are cheering, but I only do this to help me plot. I need to plot the way Jack needs play to go with his work.
So far I’ve written and brainstormed enough that I know all the major stuff that will happen for this story. How all the threads tie together isn’t as clear, so each scene I write is my attempt at linking the finer threads together. And it’s not easy.
Before, I used write scene after scene, which were, on their own, cool scenes. But not all of them related to my plot. They were just cool scenes. I didn’t quite get why this was bad until last year, but now I get it and why it’s important.
Suppose I wrote a scene where Dude B offers Dude A some peanuts.
“No thanks,” Dude A says, “I like my throat in the open position.”
“Oh, I had no idea you were allergic!”
Later an imposter is pretending to be Dude A and is, of course, doing evil things. The real Dude A catches up to the imposter, but when Dude B arrives he can’t tell who is who. Luckily, the real Dude A disables the imposter’s hologramy utility belt, revealing his true self. The Dudes prevail!
But what about the peanut allergy scene? Why was that there?
Well, what if Dude B whips out the bag of peanuts he always carries and offers it to the two Dudes. The imposter accepts, thus revealing himself and the real Dude A uses the distraction to disable the hologramy utility belt. The Dudes prevail!
And I get to pat myself on the back for taking something small and making it very important for the story.
Today’s scene was shaping up to be a “cool scene” and I was scratching my head as to what it had to do with the rest of the plot. I wasn’t going to delete it, but I was planning on making a note to myself so I wouldn’t forget it was there. Just as I was about to move on, an idea struck and I figured out how it tied into the existing plot without changing it.
That made me happy. My scene matters and the plot got a little bit thicker.