Day 8 of National Young Writers’ Month and I thought one week in is as good as any for an update. My 3 goals, as detailed in my earlier post, Go Go Gadget, Write!, were to: Blog every day, join a writers’ group and outline the plot for my novel in preparation for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Blogging every day: Check. Join a writers’ group: First meeting tonight – Check. Outline plot: Big fat FAIL. I’m struggling something chronic with this goal, and although I’ve made ‘progress’, in a sense, it’s just not turning out how I’d like, which is ultimately discouraging and therefore counter-productive.
My problem is this. I have an idea. I think it’s a pretty good idea. I have my character, a special ‘ability’ and a world to create around her. But I have no plot. No rising action. No climax. No falling action. No conflict. I can see my character in this world and the things around her, I know she’s special, but I don’t know what she’s fighting for. Is this a sign I should give up now? Let it go? Start afresh with something new?
I understand the conventions of a good fantasy – characters going from ordinary to extraordinary, good vs evil, the anti hero, destinies, prophecies, isolation. And the fantasies I love most are the ones with multi layered plots, a universal theme, an underlying task to achieve as well as smaller tasks to carry the protagonist through, individual character agendas, secrets and surprises. I love endings, god how I love good endings. So, naturally, this is what I want my book to read like too. Did J.K. Rowling, she who ties everything together superbly over a massive seven books, did she work out these things before she began writing or just start with a boy finding out he’s a wizard, and work out the rest as she went?
Perhaps I could just start by writing my character in a scene and see where she takes me. Or do I need to have some resemblance of the nitty gritty figured out before I dive in? Do I need to know the evil, need to know my Voldemort before I can start writing? I’ve read that people will often scrap a large majority of their drafts before they get to the final masterpiece. Is this the reason why? Because they are fleshing out the story as they go and don’t really know where it will end up when they begin?
These are the questions I ask myself today. Perhaps they are also questions that I will ask at the writers’ group tonight. In the meantime, I’m going to sit here and panic, possibly bang my head against the wall a few times, and hope that my good idea will not be stuck inside my head forever without the plot to let it shine.