Monday, February 07, 2011

I'm in Lurve

Look at that! I'm in love, and it's not even Valentine's Day. And the object of my affection is not Mr TR.

No, I have fallen for a brand new, shiny idea: my next novel, Watching Willow Watts, about a small-town girl who is catapulted to stardom after her YouTube video gets millions of hits. I'm in that honeymoon phase, where everything seems to be positively brimming with potential -- before you realise your beloved can't stop cracking his toes or terrorizing the neighbours with growling snores (oh, wait -- that is Mr TR).

As I sat down today to finally start plotting WWW, it struck me that as excited as I was, I'd forgotten how to plot the darn thing.

Uh-oh.

So, I thought I'd share my steps back to writing redemption. I'm NOT an expert (obviously), but asking these questions really helps me clarify what I want my novel's overall structure to be.

What does my protagonist think she wants?
What will stand in her way?
What will she learn and how will she change by the end?
Initially, Willow thinks she wants the stardom that's thrust upon her. I'll raise the stakes by making her whole village dependent on her fame, along with a sleazy agent with a dodgy contract; a crotchety busybody who's determined to bring her down; and the return of 'the one that got away' who can't relate to the new her. In the end, she'll learn that she doesn't need to pretend to be someone else to be happy.
Of course there are a zillion blanks to be filled in, but if I can just figure out the answers to those three questions, it makes adding the details much easier.

How do you get your relationship off on the right foot? By writing a synopsis first -- or just plunging right in?

70 comments:

  1. I LOVE the sound of this book, Talli! I just plunge in, but asking myself questions like yours certainly helps whenever I get stuck. Thanks!

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  2. It's interesting to read the questions you ask yourself to create structure in your work. For me, structure is the biggest challenge! Lately, I took a couple of books and wrote notes on each chapter as I read to see if it would make me more concious of the narrative arc. I think it has helped!

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  3. I like to wrtie a scene, it's usually the first and then begin the snowflake method. The writing of one scene usually gets all my excitement out and then it's time to work. Good luck! New ideas are so exciting.

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  4. WWW! You are spilling the beans and sharing your creative ideas in their infancy for your next novel. Bold and breathtaking.

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  5. That's about where I'm at--filling in the blanks. If I know the answers, the writing will fall into place.

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  6. I think lots, make some notes, then dive in and hope for the best.

    Then I edit a lot, and scream a bit, and eat lots of cake.

    It seems to work!

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  7. I don't write anything down, but when an idea/premise/character comes to me, I ask myself those same questions (and more...lots of 'what ifs'). I know the premise/character has legs if it keeps festering, niggling. I'll let it percolate in my head for a bit, while the answers to those questions solidify. When I open up a new word doc, and start typing, it's because I'm excited at what I see in my head and the story wants to be told. Most of all my MC must be crystal clear in my head or I cannot write, no matter how interesting a premise I may have.

    Before I begin revisions, though, I do write things down, make notes, and try to organize it into something a bit more structured. I know I should learn to do that before I start the first draft, but my creative process doesn't allow me to. It shuts down. It doesn't like to be told what to do. Which makes for grueling, lengthy rounds of revisions. *sigh*

    I can't wait to read it, Talli. Enjoy your love-affair! :)

    Hugs,
    Lola

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  8. Wow! Sounds like a great idea Talli! Have fun.

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  9. Willow Watts sounds brilliant, can't wait to read it (why are you spending time blogging, go and write it immediately!) When it comes to writing, I am congenitally unable to plan. I have a character or two in my head and maybe one plot point, which I write towards. Seems to be working so far!

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  10. The concept of WWW sounds very interesting. If it’s anything like THG, I predict another bestseller to your name.

    As for writing. I plunge right in. I start with a clear idea as to what happens in chapter one. When I’m done writing that chapter, I come up with ideas for chapter two and so on.

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  11. OOOh how exciting, Talli - I've always been a plunger - I've tried plans and plotlines and 'structure' but it always makes me feel penned in. A beginning and and end, that's me - and let the fun and games commence in the middle! Good luck with WWW, it sounds like a lot of fun!

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  12. Sounds like a great idea to me :D

    In my last attempt I plunged right in - but it didn't turn out very well lol. Asking questions like these sounds like a good way to go, thanks :D

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  13. Congrats on the new idea - always a great phase to be just starting out. I usually write at least 10 pages of the work before sitting down and figuring out what I'm doing. I outline as far as I can and then keep writing. Things usually come to me along the way.

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  14. Ooo...WWW sounds an awesome idea (and the title is super-cool too)!

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  15. I plunge in and ask questions later, but would probably save time if it was the other way round!

    WWW sounds great :o)

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  16. I tend to take a lot of notes along the way. If I feel I've lost focus, I sit down and ask questions, much like you've shown here.

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  17. Love the new book idea!

    I tend to just jump right in. I usually have either a character or a specific plot twist in mind and the novel evolves from there.

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  18. Hi Talli,
    Your book seems to need a lot of research later on, knowing all about becoming a star. This could really be interesting, especially with the Justin Bieber fever going around.

    I usually do planning and plunging at the same time. Last time I didn't ask me those questions, or I did, but not with any results, and now I'm kind of stuck in my story. So next time I will make more plans again. Your questions hopefully get me back on track.

    Thank you for liking my poem.
    Nahno ∗ McLein

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  19. This sounds great, and I love the name Willow for the MC!

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  20. Oh yay! New idea love is always the best. Good luck to you and your shiny new idea!!

    xoxo, The BooKrushers.

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  21. I can understand why you're in love with WWW. I can't wait to read it.

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  22. I'm a "plot what plot?!?!" type of gal! LOL!!!!

    Awwww I can feel the lurve with your WWW wip!!! Lovely!!! Poor Willow Watts!!! She's really gonna be up against such events and people!!! How will she survive such onslaught!?!?!? Ooooh guess I'll just have to wait for the book innit?!?! :-)

    Good luck! Take care x

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  23. Wow I like your premise. I agree very bold to share it. Enjoy :O)

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  24. I love, love, LOVE how you've boiled your plot down to these key ingredients - as you point out, this is the core of the story and while you might not have filled the blanks in yet, it doesn't matter because you have the essential conflict! This book sounds great!

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  25. I like the premise of the story. Sounds like you've got a good entry for "W" in blogging from A to Z.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

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  26. Love that honeymoon phase of a new project!
    I do similar things. I look at story arcs and how to fit in twists and turns...and get stressed out by it!

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  27. I can't even plan my day without getting sidetracked! My books are doomed and I have little help to give. When you find the answers to these questions, please let me know!

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  28. That sounds really good and I love your title! I'm an outlining kind of gal. I've found that when I outline it brings out more of the story and inspires me even further.

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  29. You are very good at boiling your story down to the essence. Maybe I should copy your list for my next MS.

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  30. I love that you get right down to business with your protag questions. Knowing what your protag wants up front and what she learns in the end creates a great framework!

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  31. Once I know the character well, I outline - in detail! Glad you're excited about your new project.

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  32. Oh I can't just plunge right in. I have to test the water temp, dip my toes in, wade to my shins, dip my fingers and drip water on my shoulders, raise my hands, walk deeper, and finally dive under. Or in other words, write some sort of outline to make sure the story will come together the way I need it to.

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  33. I've learned to ask my characters more questions before I begin. And I have to outline, otherwise God only knows where I'll end up!

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  34. I usually plunge right in, writing a first chapter or so and getting to know the story; then I'll get the rest of the plot down.

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  35. I'm an outliner...so I never plunge in anywhere. I usually start with the beginning and end, add in hurdles and other obstacles, then layer in character development. A synopsis is usually my very last step. :)

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  36. Oooh, I needed this post for my newest lurve (I love that spelling, shows the passion!.

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  37. I've gotten to where I'll open Word and type the whole thing--beginning, goals, motivation, conflict, etc.--in a short 1-2 page doc. Then I have at it, and of course that doc changes...

    but I like your three-question approach. Perhaps I'll try that next time. good guide~ :o)

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  38. I particularly like your question "What does my protagonist think she wants?", because that question right there could lead to interesting twists in the plot. and I like your story idea, especially because it's original and there aren't a lot of stories out there about Youtube, even though everyone uses it.

    I don't write a synopsis because I'm not always sure what the plot will be. I do sometimes write character sketches, and the plot can often unfold from there.

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  39. I plot everything. I think it's important but not everyone can do it. I can't wait to read your next book.

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  40. You couldn't know how timely this is for me. I'm in the 'in lurve' stage with a new project, too, while still trotting along with my WiP. I don't have an answer for you because previous manuscripts have all evolved from nothing. My new one will be different - plotted and characterized before I begin. Scares me to think about it. But I'm giving it a go.

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  41. Planning's good for me - good luck, it sounds great!

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  42. Oh, I love the sound of this new novel!! I used to dive right in but now I make copious amounts of notes and I get to know my characters first.

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  43. Haha! This SNI (sexy new idea) sounds awesome. :) I usually write a synopsis first, but sometimes if I am inspired enough and have the right amount of motivation (and ideas), I just plunge into writing. Hey--love is love and there's no stopping that! :D

    ~TRA

    http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

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  44. I really like your new idea, it sounds great and quite current.

    I'm not a plotter, but I usually have ideas of points I need to hit and scribble those -along with character details and anything else that comes to mind- in a notebook before I dive in.

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  45. It seems you're having fun with your idea already :) Although I'm not a writer, I'm very fascinated by the creative process that leads to the creation of a book.

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  46. I plunge headlong in and splash around for a while having lots of fun before finding myself beached on mud flats, which is questions like the ones you ask yourself come in really handy!

    WWW sounds fab. I feel for Willow already. Can't wait to read it!

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  47. Oh my gosh Talli, you make this look so easy! How did you encapsulate it all so tidily? I tried to follow you example and mine came out at least two sentences longer and lot more garbled *cries*
    I'm going to fine tune it some more and see if I can get it down pat!

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  48. Such a great pitch to a book! I'd fall in love with that, too. Good luck with all the plotting!

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  49. Interesting! Very thought provoking...

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  50. WWW sounds like lots of fun! I tend to visualize the last scene, the first scene and then just jump right in! :)

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  51. Sounds like another winner, Talli. Can't wait to read it. First I procrastinate and then I obsess and when all else falls I turn to wine.

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  52. Yay! I love that beginning awesome feeling!

    I do only a loose outline. I'll list the main plot points and some connecting scenes, and then I just go for it.

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  53. Your new book sounds so awesome! I can't wait to read it! For my first, novel, I outlined the entire thing but now I've only outlined the first two chapters...and I'm just about ready to jump in! (Scary!) Thanks for sharing your plotting techniques. Good luck!! :)

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  54. The start is always the best part - until the reality of what you have outlined for yourself sets in.

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  55. That sounds like a fun story! I can see why you're in love.
    My latest WIP has an outline simply because I wrote it first (a couple of years ago) as a fairy tale, so now I'm just fleshing out scenes and characters, adding layers to a structure already in place. Kind of liberating for a pantser.

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  56. Sounds like a great story! I'm so happy for you, Talli. The honeymoon stage of writing is a thrilling place to be. Especially when the opposite end of the spectrum is revising.

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  57. Hi Talli,
    It's neat to see you've got another idea brewing. I think my favorite part of writing is the "aha" moment of a new idea.
    Have a great week!

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  58. Hi Talli .. poor Mr TR - I'm sure he'd be shocked to know we and the neighbours know who the toe cracker growler is ... still fun to think about.

    Gosh - I admire you settling down to sort all these streams of ideas out .. bon chance, I feel certain they'll all come together ..

    Enjoy the lovely sunny day .. cheers Hilary

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  59. Cute concept! Reminds me of Esme, who was discovered by Timberlake, etc. Very timely! I'm also in lurve with a new book concept! But I can't share the deets yet.

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  60. TAlli, Just plunging right in is...but as I say that I also give it quite a bit of time in my head before it goes to the plunge. I'm a 'thinker' so I have a great deal of info. just waiting to explode before the furst word actually hits the paper...probably not the most logical but hey, it works for me!

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  61. There's nothing more exciting than starting a new writing project. Can't wait to sort out my stressful life and get back to some real writing. I miss that buzz and I can almost feel your buzz zinging from the screen of this blog post.

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  62. teehee. You said crotch. Okay, maybe it was crotchety... *cough* I also think it's cute that you forgot how to plot, though it looks like you remembered the basics after not too long...

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  63. I started out writing chapters and then stopped to actually plan out the story carefully with an idea of what each major phase would be about (if that makes sense) -and then research and writing began. I'm always checking info though, especially with scene changes.

    Willow sounds very cool btw! ;-)

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  64. I usually come up with a really cool-sounding climactic scene, then work out how to get my characters to that point. Often getting to writw the ending becomes my reward for doing the work of writing the story.

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  65. Sounds like a great story idea, Talli. I hope the plotting is going well.

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  66. Talli it sounds like you have hit on another novel(excuse the pun)idea! I look forward to reading the result. I have just heard you are meeting Lucie at the weekend, have fun.

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  67. I usually write a couple of pages to get a feel for the voice, and then I write a flash fiction as a way to brainstorm and get a general idea for how I want the plot to go.

    The new idea sounds awesome! Good luck with it!

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Coffee and wine for all!