Making a breakthrough: Plot

I wasn’t able to start writing today, thanks to my daughter’s insane chem class schedule, but I did make a huge advance in my understanding of developing a Plot for a novel.

It was such a simple thing that I am almost ashamed to write it down. However . . .  I think it’s important enough that, if you haven’t already learned it or automatically done it or whatnot, you might want to try it. Just don’t laugh at my poor former “inspiration only” writer self. I’m still learning how to be a “butt in the chair” writer.

I figured out that, for every scene, you need to know not only what’s going on in the scene . . . but WHERE EVERYONE ELSE IS.

Dopey, huh?

I was fiddling around with my main character and he was being interviewed by an unhappy law officer, but I realized that all this STUFF would be going on at the same time. His family would be hearing about the incident, they would be at points A, B, C, and D, and they would be going about their daily routines (and plotting little complications all by themselves) without my main character ever knowing it.

In my last novel, it wasn’t really an issue since my characters were usually A. On a boat or B. All together running like hell. I didn’t have to worry where Fred or Mack or Bob were, not only because they could only be ten yards away, but also due to the psychic thing. If they were plotting revenge, someone would have noticed.

In this book, though, it matters where Bob is while the main character is talking to the cops. It turns out to matter a lot.

So, I made a simple chart for each chapter, which I’m trying to slowly fill in. Character X is at school during Chapter 1, Character Y is at work, but Character Z is covering his ass before the cops come down on him. That becomes a huge divisive element in the book, tearing a family apart as they fight for survival.

And I didn’t even know it because I was plodding along in First Person POV, eyes straight ahead and mind on my main character’s thoughts.

It’s fine to write the book from just his perspective, but as the author, I need to KNOW everything else that’s going on at all times.

Silly how simple it is, isn’t it? But it was so hard to make a leap from casually saying “oh yeah, he was . . . uhh . . . at the tent” to saying “He was at the campground removing the burned bones from the fire pit.” Even if your main character only KNOWS that Bob was at the tent. 🙂

I’m happy. I’m now a better plotter. Hey, I love even small accomplishments. I’ll never be a mystery writer, but I will write a better book next time. And that’s working on my own character arc, right? 😉

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About endurancemom

Writer of fantasy and historical fantasy fiction, mother of 6, former nurse, Catholic convert, wife of 24 years, and general all-around geek. Warning: Do not attempt this at home. View all posts by endurancemom

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