This is an enduring problem I have as a writer: plotting.
I think I’m more of a drop-characters-into-a-situation-kind of writer. Which is fine, but the dang story needs to go somewhere instead of meandering along, right? I recognize plots, of course, and when I’m reading a novel, I can see what is rising action and what is the climax, for instance, but for whatever reason, doing that in my own stuff has been a challenge.
One of the reasons why I wrote a long outline for the current draft of the current (and sometimes it feels like never ending) WIP is that I wanted to be able to work on plotting.
I understand the basic principles of a plot. I’ve read writing books on plotting. Inciting incident, the first plot point-door-of-no-return, the Choice, the climax…
The outline certainly does build and go somewhere, which is a huge improvement over draft three, but it’s not as tightly-plotted as I kind of wish it could be.
Taking the WIP from my basic premise:
Barbados, 1799: Miles loses his wife, decides to return to his native England with his 2 daughters: one white, the other half black.
To something a little longer, almost like a blurb:
Barbados, 1799: Miles Keegan is a merchant and plantation manager living in the West Indies with his black wife and their two daughters: one white and illegitimate, the other half black. But when a slave on Keegan’s plantation runs away, the slave’s next buyer makes life difficult for Miles and his family–and the Keegans make plans to leave the island.
Miles’ wife falls ill and dies before they can leave and Miles decides to cut ties with Barbados and return to his native England with his children, believing that England, where slavery is illegal, will be kinder to his odd family.
That’s as far as I’ve gotten in this draft, so I’ll stop there.
In the meantime, I have two plot bunnies running around in my head. Actually, I have four plot bunnies, but two of them are for the two fanfics I’m currently spewing out in 1,000-word chapters every couple of days or so. The other two are a historical idea (late Victorian, crumbling English country house, heir marrying a rich American heiress, the cousin who the heir loves and promised to marry being pushed out of the picture…) and a YA fantasy idea (princess of a foreign realm which occupies a tense place in between two enemy superpowered countries; her country deposes her family, forcing the princess to move to New York City and enter school for the first time. Enter a bully, a new best friend, and a crush.)
I’m a firm believer in learning more about writing with every project, so perhaps, now that I have outlining as a skill in my back pocket, these new plot bunnies will hop up with an actual plot.