Plotting and the wayward muse

It’s taken a while, but I’m back on track with my story. I’ve been away from it for quite some time now. When I started this story, I was consumed. I’d sit each day and the words would simply fly from my fingers and onto the page. And then… nothing. When my writing quits like that, it usually means I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere in the story. Weeks ago I thought I’d figured out where that wrong turn occurred. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

I have plotting tools – though I’m a pantser. I love these new-to-me tools – the W-Plot and the Storyboard. Problem is, as a pantser, I tend to grant my characters more freedom than my plotting tools allow. And so… three chapters ago, my heroine decided to break with plot and stay home while my hero paid a ransom. That was in Chapter 9. And that was my first big mistake.

Plotting is a funny thing for a pantser. Details and flow must be there, but not so much as to bludgeon the muse’s enthusiasm or bind the muse’s creative soul. However, the muse should not be allowed to flitter from one shiny and attractive idea to another. The muse must stay focused and dedicated. The muse must pick a theme and an emotion, and run with it in fresh though logical new directions. S/he must follow through to the end, stay excited through the long hard middle and feel that second wind effect as s/he nears the end. The muse must do all this while staying on track and being true to the characters – giving those characters real challenges, real changes, real chances. The muse must do all this in exciting and unexpected ways.

And so I’ve discussed this with my muse. The result? Quite simply, he’s not having it.

Yes, my muse is a he and his name is Freddie (Beth? Care to guess “Freddie” who? 😎 ) 

He’s a stubborn one who tends to ramble. But he’s talented and compelling, and if I really listen and steer clear of  the asides, I see there’s interesting logic in the ideas he has. My job as writer is to skim off the froth and dig into the hearty brew beneath.

The idea is an exciting one. The actual process… not so much.

I have hard copy of my chapters now and will use this new approach to revising – editing on paper not computer. Literally cutting and pasting this story back together to make it one both my muse and I can be proud of.

Pssst… btw… I placed 4th in the Black Diamond Synopsis Contest. 4th. Not 1st, 2nd or 3rd, but… hey. I placed, yes?

7 Responses to Plotting and the wayward muse

  • Congratulations on 4th. Yes, it’s not as good as a win but don’t overlook how good it really it.

    And good luck with wooing your muse to be more cooperative.

    Linda

  • Congrats on placing fourth, Debbie! Good to see you blogging again! I wish I could be a prolific blogger like you! 😉

    ~Marly

  • Congratulations, Debbie, on placing in a synopsis contest. This means that your story is great, and your muse must be dedicated just as you said, ha ha. What I do when my muse becomes unruly is make notes for a future story and then get back on track. I’m thrilled to hear that you now have some time to write.

  • Debbie, sometimes I wish there were pills or potions for my writing problems– a writer’s block dissolver, an anxiety banisher, elixir of creativity, deadline-itis cure, and time pressure eliminator. Writing is such hard work!

  • Linda,
    Thanks you… Funny thing is, when I received the email, my first thought was that I was one of four winners – a winner from each category. ha. I placed fourth overall. Not bad. Not the win, but not bad. 🙂

    Marly,
    Hmm. Prolific writer vs. prolific writer… tough choice, m’dear, tough choice. lol. But thank you. And thanks for the welcome back words… it’s good to be back and blogging with my friends.

    ~Debbie

  • Kathleen,
    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. When I wrote my first two stories, I would take time off one to work on the other. It was a wonderful way to keep busy without pushing my muse overmuch. Thanks for the nudge. I just might try that again. I DO have story ideas swirling in my head.
    And, btw, if ever you should find one of those pills or potions for the writerly ails, count me in for a truckload of them! LOL

    ~Debbie

  • Believe me, Debbie, I have the same problem. I have two stories in my head. I’ve thought about combining them in one book, but now I’m thinking it would be overly complex and might bog down the reader. Oh, how we struggle with scope.

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