Since then I’ve come up with what I call a “hang loose” style of plotting. I’ve reverted to my initial idea of plot, which is only accurate for what I write today if viewed from a very great distance. I have the character and the character’s problem. I know some of the things the character is going to do to solve it because – having the character – I know what his/her personality dictates, i.e., a character who is primarily oriented to care for others and neglect him/herself is not going to come up with the same solutions as a character who is primarily oriented to look after him/herself. This is very basic, and of course there are finer distinctions. Then I have the mirror moment and when it will hit and why. And this more or less dictates the triumph.
I might or might not have other scenes I want to have in the book so the book says what I want it to. Say a scene of carnage from a misguided revolution…
Anyway these days, the beginning of the book is always a little choppy, because even if I’m using a character I used before – as I’m doing in Through Fire – I might not know the character as well as I think I did.
With Zenobia (with the singularly inappropriate nickname of Zen), I knew what type of person she was. I thought. At least I knew of a couple of decisions she made that were original and that I thought gave me an idea of who she was.
But as I wrote past the beginning part, I realized that the character has a past, beyond the past I thought she had. I’ve found that some of her quirks are due to things other than what I thought they were.
Suddenly – yesterday – while out driving, it all came together, and I realized who this character is, and what is pushing her.
Which means suddenly I can see the chapters between here and the mirror moment in glaring detail. These things must happen, because they come directly from character and situation. Anything else would be the wrong plot. And yet, it is a plot with everything functional, leading to that moment when Zen will see herself in the mirror of her actions and realize who she is and what she truly wants, beyond who and what she’s been taught to be and want.
It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s like you’ve been plodding along, and suddenly you’re in the air, and you’re being carried, and you see everything from above and realize it works.
When you hit it, don’t be afraid. You’ve done the work. Now enjoy it.
Hang in there!