Friday, August 22, 2008

Book Planning

Some of you have heard me complain about writing myself in circles in this second book. Well, I decided to tackle that problem once and for all--while I was at the gym. (And I mean figuring it all out at the gym, while walking on the treadmill.)

Today it finally hit me: I needed to answer a few questions. I need to set the story up just right so that my MC can take me along for the ride without me having to do any major road-building. Now, I went to the gym armed to the teeth with info and had just read a research paper on the frankincense trade and ordered myself an incense burner and a pack of "gourmet" my mind was "in the mood." All I needed now was a reason for why my MC was going to do the things I wanted him to do. I needed a mystery, a deadline, and a few other things.

So as I walked at a fairly fast pace (and tried to ignore the super-skinny long-haired blonde running at 7mph right next to me), I thought it out. I stared outside and tried to feel the heat of the Yemeni desert. I asked my MC what his story was.

And then it came to me. Ahah! I was so excited I almost fell off the treadmill. (And the blonde stared at me like I was crazy b/c I was trying to write while exercising.)

Now I can answer the questions that have been posted next to my desk for months. They're a great guide. I got them from somewhere (I forget where, now)...maybe Cheryl Klein's website?

1. What does your main character really want?
2. Why can't your MC have it?
3. What will happen if your MC doesn't get what s/he wants? (What are the stakes?)
4. How does your MC struggle to get what s/he wants?
5. When is the situation hopeless? (When can you not put the book down?)
6. When is the tension relieved?
7. What is surprising about the ending?

Ok, so I can't rightfully answer 5-7 yet, but I have an idea of what that'll be. I even have a place in mind (geographically). Phew! So although I haven't cranked out draft one this summer like I had hoped, at least I'm on the right track. It's been hard just trying to find my keys lately, much less the rest of my brain, so I'm proud I accomplished this much.

And just so ya know, all of the walking has not helped the preggo pain at all. In fact, now I feel like a Barbie doll whose legs are being pulled apart by a three-year-old.


Jody said...

Awesome! I can't wait to read all of your books...they sounds so interesting!

About the preggo pain...two words: pre-natal yoga. Okay, 2.5 words. Seriously! I have a great DVD that saved my hips from being split into two with Ev. If you haven't tried it, you really should. It makes all the difference! BTW...we are pregnant with baby number 2...due in April again!

Val said...

Ignoring the super-skinny long haired blonde right next to you. How is it possible???

Stephanie Perkins said...

Wow, number seven gives me something to think about. I'm embarrassed to say I've never considered it before. Time to go re-examine my ending! Thank you so much for posting this.

cindy said...

i love it when the jigsaw pieces appear and come together! i have three words : hot water bottle.
i still sit on one nearly every night due to my lower back pain.

Sustenance Scout said...

A heating pad helps, too, though that pre-natal yoga sounds terrific! In your spare time, right? Good luck with the manuscript and so glad to read about your teen workshops and Elizabeth's fun party. Happy (belated!) birthday to your big girl. You look marvelous, btw! Hugs from Denver, K.

Jacqui said...

"had just read a research paper on the frankincense trade and ordered myself an incense burner and a pack of "gourmet" my mind was "in the mood."

This cracks me up. I'm so glad you had a revelation -- good luck working it all out.

As for the preggo pain, sigh. My back hurts just remembering being pregnant. I found doughnuts and back episodes of Friends helpful.

Elise Murphy said...

Yeah for you for getting on the treadmill and figuring out plot all at the same time! I remember reading this list from CK but never thought of printing it - duh!

So, having lived through a TWIN pregnancy after a previous pregnancy already stretched out all those ligaments . . . I say: BELLY SLING.

You'll feel like you've put on some kind of prenatal-dominatrix costume, but it really works. Kept me from dropping those babies right on the grocery store floor.

Amber Lough said...

Darn, I tossed out my preggo dominatrix costume last halloween. No, seriously, that's a good idea. So's the heating pad/bottle.

Can you believe I slept on the ground last night? It was horrible. I'm never camping while pregnant again.

Glad y'all liked the plot/characterization questions. :-)