In “On Writing” Stephen King likens a story to a fossil buried in the earth and writers something like archaeologists endeavoring to uncover the artifact. We have our tools to reveal the fossil and extract it from the earth and we endeavor to get as much out as we can. Inevitably we can’t get the entire fossil out or it breaks etc but our job is to try.
Our “tools” are various things like grammar, elements of style, creativity, etc. Plotting is also a tool but he says it’s more like a jackhammer and should be avoided at all costs because what use is a jackhammer when digging out something small and fragile? We needs brushes and tiny picks (like dental picks I guess), etc for the delicate care needed.
I imagined the beginning of Jurassic Park when the paleontologists are uncovering a fossil and are using small brushes to dust the dirt away. Makes me want to watch that movie again.
So, according to him, he never plots his stories. He thinks of a situation then sees how his character(s) get out of it.
I’m not sure if I agree with this or not. I mean, if you don’t do at least a little plotting your idea might fizzle up before you’ve gone anywhere with it. If what King’s saying is true (and he says he doesn’t always speak the truth when questioned about his writing), then I can’t argue with him on it because that’s what works best for him.
Maybe I’m not 100% understanding him.
I plot. But I don’t create outlines or plot details. For example, right now I’m plotting the sequel to my MS, Night’s Treasure. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll use letters and numbers instead.
Sophy starts in A. 1/2/3 will visit while she’s there (character/background building and such). Stuff happens. She’ll probably meet 4. Then she’ll move to B to be with 1/2. Stuff happens. She’s called upon to go to C where more stuff happens (preferably a Spoiler) and ends with a Spoiler. Then she’s taken to D by 5 (whom she met during her time in C) to stay for an indefinite period of time. She’ll meet 6, perhaps 7. 8 will pop up eventually to help her out. She may end up with 4 as 4 or not. Haven’t gotten that far. Throughout the whole story she’ll have a struggle with Z.
Really detailed, yeah? That’s how most of my plotting goes though I do have a few more details that I obviously wouldn’t mention here. “Stuff happens” comes up a lot in my plotting though. Those details are usually the ones that come out while I’m in the process of writing. But without that plotting over the general details, I’d never be able to get to the specific details because I’d be sitting there wondering where I was going with the whole mess.
If you’re the kind of person to likes to plot every little detail out, here’s something for you:
Do you plot and outline etc, do you freestyle it, or do you do something in between?