Writing The Great American eNovel On My Smartphone: Characters Appear, Characters Vanish

So I was hard at work on book #3 this a.m.[1] I had left off 2 days ago on the threshold of a sequence that involved moving some horses from one locale to another.  Of course, for any good drama there needs to be complications, so I had figured out the sequence would involve scene a which leads to scene b which leads to scene c which leads to scene d.

And in scene d I needed a truck to get us to the next sequence and since trucks need truck drivers, 2 days ago I blocked out in my head who this truck driver would be:  An Iranian immigrant in his late twenties.  Doesn’t like the loneliness of his job.  Easily irritable.  A stickler for rules.

Mind you, I didn’t sit down and carefully craft out what kind of character he needed to be: I just needed a truck driver to do a specific thing and in the blink of my mind’s eye I “saw” him.

So today, when I sat down to write the sequence, I had him on deck, ready to go.

But a funny thing happened on the way to his dramatic debut…

I don’t plot my stories out in excruciating detail.[2]

Oh, I know where I’m going with ‘em.  And I have a general idea of the rise and fall of the action, the kind of scenes I want to do, maybe even very specific ideas re character and action and dialog.

But I don’t, I won’t hamstring myself by drafting a super-detailed plot & then sticking to it dogmatically.

Does me no good.

Rather, I prefer to let my characters and scenes breathe.  I know where I think I’m going, but I’m willing to let things happen, to explore odd side trails, to hear what new & unexpected things pop into my characters’ heads & out of their mouths.

So scene a became scene a, which boosted the next scene from b to B, which showed me something I wasn’t expecting so c became C+ and then the next thing you know it’s not d but “D” because it really isn’t the original scene I thought I was going to write.

And while I still needed a truck, I no longer needed my 28-year old easily irritated Iranian immigrant truck driver.

Adios, amigo.

He’s been replaced by a 54-year old guy, a long time professional truck driver but not a particularly good one, and because he’s not particularly good at his job he inadvertently does something that kicks us over into the next scene.

But wait!  There’s more.

In the course of scene B, one of the characters gets bitten by a horse.  Nothing serious, but it prompts character #2 to make a comment that gets character #3 to reveal something completely unanticipated & unexpected.

Now you see why scene d has become scene “D”.

This is why I advise against getting too clever too early on with one’s plotting.

You never know what’s gonna pop up and bite you on the tush.




[1]  I work on more than one story at a time.  Currently I have three novels in various stages of drafting/completion.

[2]  “You don’t plot your #@$% stories in any kind of detail!” -- every story editor I ever worked with

The God Of Abraham, Isaac, And Moses [re-post]

The God Of Abraham, Isaac, And Moses [re-post]

What I Believe (And Why): The Nature Of God