Let’s give a warm welcome to one of my partners-in-crime for the ADDICTED TO HEROINES blog tour, Ms. Devorah Fox. Not only is she fun to e-hang out with on Facebook, she’s also a neat writer with some great advice to impart. Today she shares with us one of her most unusual methods when plotting her novel, The Lost King.
Take it away, Devorah…
Watching a drama on TV, I’ll observe, “Ah hah, the thick plottens!” That always gets a chuckle from my Significant Other, but seriously, the question of how a writer plots a story is a good one. There’s probably as many answers are there are writers, but here’s how I do it.
My stories are driven more by character than plot. Sometimes a story is ignited by a “what if…?” but more often, I find myself thinking of a character. That character is challenged or has goals. To get where he or she wants to go, that character has to learn something. Thus, the action in the story evolves from lessons and trials that the character encounters.
Take The Lost King. I began that story with a character in mind, that of man who has lost everything—his family, his possessions, his very station in life—and wants to get it back. Though the book is a fantasy set somewhere in the middle Middle Ages, I was inspired by contemporary people who because of the economic downturn found themselves “pink-slipped” right out of their lives. Like King Bewilliam, they don’t really understand why this has happened. After all, they have worked hard their entire lives, took care of their families, put money aside in savings. Yet now they are broke and unemployed with dim prospects. I set out to write a happy ending for King Bewilliam and those like him.
And there the thick plottens.
I knew the King had lessons to learn, but what they were was a mystery to me. I had only a couple in mind. One of them was his meeting Alexandra, Empress of Sea Gate Fortress, the story’s heroine. Other than that, I had no idea what was going to happen. As a general guide, I did a tarot card spread, planning to use the images as prompts if I got stuck.
For the most part, though, I wrote my way into the story word by word without any real outline. I wrote quickly, too. The Lost King was my National Novel Writing Month 2010 writing marathon project and I wrote 50,062 words of the novel in 30 days. An advantage of the writing marathon is the writer doesn’t have any time to second guess. For me, the result is that any and all ideas get written down. As it turns out very few of them got thrown out in the editing process.
Frankly, I was as surprised as the readers are about what happens to the King and to the Empress. I have found that there’s a point in the process where the characters and the story take on a life of their own. From then on I’m not so much writing the story as channeling it, going where the characters take me.
Both the King and the Empress learned necessary lessons. Yet both still have much to learn. So there will be another story, and another, and another. The thick plottens.