Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Book Two Posts: Episode 11 - Plot Twists

If you have read my earlier posts, you know that I've been organizing my office. It was also part of a huge effort to reclaim my creative space from work, which takes up far too much mental real estate, for health benefits, to take back control of my life and space, and to get back to doing what I love.

Recently, I hung a few items in the office that I plan to use as writing tools (a white board, chalkboard calendar, and bulletin board). I know that I said this blog post is about Book Two. I'm getting there. 😸

The whiteboard is for pure brainstorming. It has questions on it that I'm asking myself about the book and trying to work out character arcs when it feels like I'm missing something or the character is too stagnant. It helps me figure out plot holes. Sometimes I'll come up with an idea, but it's like just pulling out onto a road and having no idea where it goes. It is a glass white board with a white backing, just like my desk. I like how the writing "floats" on top of the white and gives it dimension. It's very sleek. 

The bulletin board is a standard board that I got ages ago. I really don't even remember when or what for. :) At that time, there were no fancy boards, but I was really wanting one with a frame.  Now you can buy some with a frame, but they are very expensive. I ended up just covering it with a pretty fabric and stapling it down. It isn't perfect, but it's doable. For the longest time, I couldn't use it since I moved in. I think, with all of the humidity, the push pins had rusted into it. I couldn't get them out. They were stuck. When I started working on getting organized, I was able to pull them out by twisting them with pliers. To hang it vertically, I had to add new hooks on one end. I use the bulletin board for index cards. Under each plot line, I can have a column of events in whatever order. It helps me figure out if I need to move things around. I did try plotting the entire book on a 24x30 whiteboard. It's very complicated. Almost every inch of space was covered.

When I saw the blank chalkboard at Wally, I knew it would be perfect for my writing. Because I have a werewolf character, having a calendar is absolutely necessary. It is also important because this book is a continuation of the last one, and events were centered around the upcoming return to university. I had been using a printed one, but it's a bit hard to move things around. This will help me to see the amount of time between the beginning of the story and the end date, and to figure out how much time passes between events. The chalk board calendar is undated, of course. It came with some chalk pencils, but I couldn't really see the marks on the board. They were too faint and small. So, I ordered some of the chalk markers from Amazon. Those were great! After playing with the board a bit and illustrating it and some of the events, I was getting inspired.

So, after spending months without a computer and then weeks organizing in the office, I decided to actually work on a little plotting. I developed my blurb for the book (to be revealed at a later time), and then, while writing notes about my new characters and making notes about some plot developments, I had one of those serendipitous moments where several things just come together at one time. That is so awesome when that happens. It's like you get this super-unique idea and it explains something about another part of the book that you weren't even working on! This has happened multiple times in the writing of this book. I can't explain it. There's no ritual or anything. It's simply research, following rabbit trails where one thought leads to the next, and then it happens. It's amazing when things come together, and it feels like it's more of a discovery or revealing than creating. But the ideas and the plot are so complex, and it's taking a really long time to finish. At the same time, it's getting better and better. And there's still so much to do!

I am also using Notion to organize some of my research and notes about the book. So, I've been working with that document when I was able to make several connections. What's really cool is that these are major plot revelations and will set up the next book! When I started this book, I had a vague idea of what would be in Book Three. Like, I had a certain idea how this book might end. That didn't happen. Or, it hasn't happened yet. I decided that I didn't like the idea, so I'm working on something much more positive. There are at least three plot lines in this story that feed into the next book. So, now I'm wondering how far do I go in this book in order for it to feel natural? Also, is this something for the next book or one after that? So, plotting a series can be pretty complicated as I try to figure out where to leave off on each thread and have the reader satisfied and not mad. 

I'm holding steady around 400 pages so far. I deleted about six pages of content that I felt slowed everything down, but I ended up adding more in other places. That will continue until I feel like the book is where it needs to be. I'm a tiny bit shy of 115K right now. There are scenes that go into a lot of detail, and I'm wondering if it's better to trim those down. Some readers want longer books, but I don't want to put them to sleep. I'm also compiling notes I've taken over the past several months and looking at the whole of the plot to see what needs to be moved, deleted, or postponed. A book never really turns out the way you first imagine. It's better than that. At least, it is to me, so I hope it is to others. We see most of the characters in the previous book and are introduce to others--including one very special one--as Evie's knowledge of her new environment grows. There are even more new characters coming in Book Three, which I have not started on. It's just there in the back of my mind. 

I think that my major concern is that the main problem of the plot doesn't really come up until about Chapter Eighteen. The rest is a series of events that lead up to it. It's all connected, but, looking at the story objectively, it may appear to be trying to be everything at once. So, I really need my Beta readers.

So, it has been a successful brainstorming period, and I'm happy with my writing tools. I feel bad that I can't show photos of the tools in use because they have notes on them, but hopefully I've given you something to inspire you here. For now, I'm pretty drained. I've been climbing over boxes and trying to find a frame that might fit the bulletin board, but such a thing does not exist. I'm in the process of heating my chicken and taco shells for dinner, which I'll eat with cheese, salad mix, sliced avocado, and just a bit of avocado ranch dressing to add a tiny bit of spice. I don't really season my meat, and, if I do, it's only very lightly. I have a hard time with spicy foods and tomatoes lately. So, my tacos are pretty basic, but healthy. :)

And I think I'll go binge a little Blacklist before the weekend is over. I haven't watched in at least a week, and I've been worried about Red and wondering what he's up to. Elizabeth is still being... you know. 😾 Why do writers create a "strong female lead" and then make her stupid? It's insulting. Like, how many times does this character have to jump to conclusions and then realize she was wrong? How many times do her stupid decisions nearly get him killed? I felt the same way about Murphy in Dresden Files. How many times did she hire Harry to help solve a murder and then accuse him of committing that same murder? And John Wick 3... Hally Berry goes ballistic and starts killing people and then blames John for causing trouble. The list goes on. So, I really want to know... why are "strong" females so dang stupid? Whatev. I'm just in it for James Spader anyway. And John Wick. 😼

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