Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A new story @Liz Flaherty

I am between manuscripts. It is, bar none, the weirdest place in the world to be. I already went on and on about exactly how weird it is on Word Wranglers, so I will have to dig deeper for conversation here.

Since I am in the strange place I’m not going to write about, I thought I’d go ahead and talk about starting a new book. How do you do it? Do you have a routine when you start? What comes first in your stories? Do you start and stop and start and stop? For trad writers, do you write a synopsis and then hope you can write a story somewhat related to it? Do you have a bunch of Chapter Ones on your computer that you’ll likely never finish?

I’ve always been a pantser. Since plotting is excruciatingly difficult for me anyway, I just let the plot happen. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes there is much kicking and screaming involved. Sometimes I end the book with great doubt there is any plot at all. So this week, since I had some time, I decided I’d try to plot.

I got through the first paragraph. But then…I don’t know what the hero’s name is yet, although Wyatt seems to be knocking at the door. Maybe Shoe. (My son played baseball with a boy whose last name was Shoemaker—they called him Shoe and I’ve always wanted to use it.) I don’t know who he is, what his flaws are, or even how old he is. How can I possibly plot? Can I just call him Hero? Of course not, because if I do that, I’ll have him climbing a mountain somewhere and, sure enough, he’ll end up being afraid of heights.

I do know the heroine. Sort of. We haven’t really met, but I know her name. That she’s divorced.

Oh, and I have the setting. This will be the third book in Lake Miniagua, Indiana. Since I invented this community, you could assume I know all about it, right? Well, no. Because when I hurtled into this new story on a plotless sled, the first place I came to was an apple orchard. The second was the library. Neither of these have ever been mentioned or even hinted at in the previous books. (I know, how could I possibly have already written two books without mentioning the library? I don’t know, but I did.) Most people I know who write series have nice, well-kept bibles about previous characters, settings, etc. I, on the other hand, have Post-it notes. Paper ones and ones on my computer screen. All colors. None of them make much sense.

Here, incidentally, is a picture of the Lake Miniagua the way it is in my mind, thanks to my friend Chris McGuire, who lives on Lake Manitou in Rochester, Indiana. See why I keep going back to it?

Chris McGuire

So. There. I have a heroine and a setting. The heroine has a half-sister who showed up because I wanted to use the name Royce. They are on the road from California and are just about to arrive at the apple orchard. Is that plotted enough? I thought so, too. Thanks for your input!

14 comments:

  1. Liz, I'm a pantser too. Which is why writing proposals is so very painful for me. My current WIP bears little resemblance to the synopsis at this point. Good luck with Shoe or Wyatt...love the lake!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Leigh. I'm STILL trying to name him! He's just not being a team player. :-)

      Delete
  2. Love the apple orchard. Hope Royce and Shoe/Wyatt and your heroine have lots of juicy conversations there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Beth. I love it, too, but I sure am having a time with names! I haven't named the orchard, either.

      Delete
  3. Glad I'm not the only one! I always trust that if I show up, the characters will as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sigh. Me, too. I'm going ahead with "for now" names, but must admit I hate doing it. It's like having an itch between your shoulder blades--just can't quite get it.

      Delete
  4. Your process was so interesting to me. I'm a plotter--every chapter--can't write until I know where I'm going, but none of my friends are. Every writer has to do what works for them. The apple orchard made me think of Sarah Addison Allen's books. Her orchard throws apples at people it doesn't like:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol. Maybe her orchard would like to name mine! I wish I was a plotter, and I do plot more than I used to, but I'm terrible at it!

      Delete
  5. Not everyone needs it. Your set-up was interesting enough to drive your story. It intrigued me enough, I bought your new novella to read.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Lake Miniagua looks like one of the lakes at our country place. I vote for Wyatt for the hero's name. You know why. *g* Everyone will know if they read the Jan. 20 post--Lucky 7 with Liz Flaherty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joan. He's been Luke for about 12 hours now--we'll see it it sticks.

      Delete
  7. My version of plotting is really strange, I think. I make a chart of people's ages. Their parents' ages. I write down what year they were born, what year their parents were born, how old their parents were when they got married. Etc. etc. I have no idea why I do this! I had a confession story in the works and I can't find my chart of peoples' ages and I'm at a total loss. I know the info, but somehow I need that piece of paper. Plot? What plot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that is so helpful to do (not that I do it) but time-line is one of my biggest challenges when I write, and I think a chart like you're talking about would be a good start.

      Delete

Subscribe to this Blog!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner