Maybe there’s a good reason I didn’t dive into Meghan’s new story.
While I was thinking over the possible plot lines, Meghan reversed the first two main events on me. And she was absolutely right. This makes better sense for the structure of the story. What had been the opening “hook” for Part One instead became Plot Point 1, which leads to Part Two of the story. If I’d started writing those scenes from the start, I’d have some major revisions on my hands.
And as details emerged about those scenes, I realized the story has a theme and a concept. Some behaviors and actions are shared across time. The returning characters are maturing and fleshing out. This story will still have its lighter moments, but it does touch on some thought-provoking issues.
Part One, Plot Point 1, Part Two, Theme, Concept—does this sound familiar to some of you?
It will if you’ve read Larry Brooks’s Story Engineering.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t abandoned my pantsing ways. But from the beginning there was just something about this story that had me holding back. Partly it was concern whether I could handle the more recent nature of part of the plot. But I think some of it may have been a subconscious awareness that the complexity of the story required some planning.
And that’s when I decided to follow at least some of the suggestions in Story Engineering. Whatever you think of the book if you’ve read it, Brooks does lay out clearly the basic structure of a good story. And I see that my first two novels fall short. So with the initial planning of what will be a longer Meghan Bode tale, I want to shape the story properly from the beginning. (But I do wish Brooks would have given more examples relating to genres other than mystery/suspense, which is what he writes.)
Thinking first also has me pondering a major element of storytelling.
Meghan’s first story was told from both her and Sandberg’s POV. Buried Deeds was told solely from Meghan’s. That made sense because Sandberg didn’t have a major role in that story. But given a major plot element, Sandberg will again have a larger role. Can I make him and his profession believable in a longer story? But if I limit the story to Meghan’s POV, how will she learn everything that Sandberg does? I don’t see these two sitting down over drinks at the end of every day and Sandberg using her as a sounding board.
I’m still working on that one. And figuring out the key events that drive Meghan and the story forward—and the clues that lead her and Sandberg to solve the modern mystery—and, well, most of the story. But for the first time in months, I’m feeling optimistic about my writing. And I’ve really missed that.
Just maybe there’s something to thinking first and writing second….
I could use some positive thoughts to help this story along. I’d really appreciate it if you could spare a few!