After running around like a chicken with my head cut off for the past couple of weeks, I finally had a little bit of time this past weekend to relax, calm down, and focus on what’s really important: binge re-watching both seasons of Pushing Daisies. And, uh…writing. Right? Yeah. Totally important.
I’m getting to the meaty part of the second book in my new series, where things start to get really complicated. Since I hadn’t been able to settle down with my manuscript for a while, I ended up sort of listlessly poking at the keyboard, jotting down a few passages that were pretty but not too relevant, trying to recapture the mood and remember where exactly I was headed. It isn’t always so easy to dive back into a universe you’ve neglected even for a short period of time, and I was getting frustrated with my lack of direction. So I turned to my old stand-by when I’m feeling stuck: narrative plotting.
I know a lot of people are pretty rigid when it comes to the way they plan out their books. I’ve previously recommended programs like SuperNotecard, and plenty of people are sweet on Scrivener or EverNote to keep their thoughts in order. But I would recommend something a lot simpler if you need to snuggle back into the warm, fluffy blanket of your own imagination – or if you’re just not sure how everything is going to come together or what to write next.
I do this…
…and I find that it really helps. I leave the names in, though, so I know what I’m talking about. It’s informal, easily changed, and it captures my stream of consciousness without nagging about order and perfection. As much as I love a good old fashioned outline with bullet points and index cards and super organized color-coding, I get most of my best ideas when I’m just going with the flow.
I think I probably will end up transferring the bulk of the series’ plotting to something a little more structured as the story builds and the lies pile up, but when it comes time to figure out what the heck my characters are going to get up to next, I always turn to the simplicity of a non-judgmental blank Word document and the pleasure of free writing my way to an epiphany or two.