Thursday, December 20, 2007

Old journal entries posted out of order--Rethinking my plot

Before I started posting to this blog, I kept some journal entries so I would have material to work with once I got going. They were logs without the web. Some of those original pieces were never posted, and now I'm circling back to post some of interest.

Sept. 4

I’m not sure where this is coming from, but I’m having a terrific urge to layer on some plot complications. It’s a very creative feeling, but it also feels a little dangerous—like it could be destructive of what I have at the same time. It’s ironic to have this urge since plot has always been my greatest weakness.

It’s hard to describe what I mean without being specific about the details of my book, but . . . I think I’m feeling like there needs to be more going on outside the main domestic setting of the story. My friend Tim Parrish advised me to make sure that there is energy in the story outside the family, and at the time I thought I had it covered and didn’t think much about it. But now as I read through the draft I’m finding all these little loose threads—little bits of color and detail thrown in without ever following up on them—and they suggest possibilities. It’s like I’ve unconsciously foreshadowed dozens of plot strands that I never thought about and never followed up on.

One example: In my draft, I have my main character getting a little pre-adolescent erotic charge hanging out with the receptionist at his dad’s office. I put it in to tell myself what his frame of mind is like at the time, but I wasn’t really including it to move the plot and didn’t do anything with it. It didn’t contribute to the story in any way. Meanwhile, the usual tension carries on between my character and his father. It seems to me now all of that can be combined to generate some other plot complications that hadn’t occurred to me before.

This isn’t the best example, because I don’t want to give away my best example. But in any case, if I pursued that line of thought, it would take me down different paths and possibly necessitate different episodes following that point in the book and even a different conclusion.

On the one hand, I really don’t like the idea that my story would need so much basic structural work. On the other hand, I’m getting a little thrill from a seeming breakthrough in my ability generate more plot complications.

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