Lately, I’ve mostly been writing inside the second half of the Odyssey I story, where most of the plot happens. Before, I was like “Plot? What’s that?” but it crept in there at some point. Basically it goes like this. I write an event, then later I think of the logical consequences of that event and write around it. For instance, a long time ago I came up with an idea for a cool alien lifeform and wanted to show what it’s capable of.
This was before there was any planet or story premise or anything. It was just me, a ballpoint pen, and some sketches of the devil’s archer in my class notes. And this:
I could have used a native prey animal to demonstrate the organism’s hunting strategy, but I opted for three (later, five) human explorers instead. I wrote a three-paragraph story to go with it, then moved on to other ideas: a lake buried beneath a blanket of floating weeds, a tentacle-faced walrus, animals that evolved into plants and back into animals, and a design for an interstellar spaceship. Thirty thousand words later, I returned to that first three-paragraph passage where I killed off one of the characters before he was even a character, and realized something. This wasn’t the climax of the story, but the beginning of the rising action.
Before, the event was meant to be a source of emotional conflict for the survivors of the attack. And that’s cool and all, but where’s the story? Well, it was right in front of my face all along. See, by involving the two pilots in the attack, I had inadvertently introduced a physical obstacle for my characters. How were they going to get home?
That part of the story is mostly complete now. The next step, I think, is to go back and flesh out the beginning because it seriously needs work.
in “Nothing to Say””Never”