No, not what you’re thinking… this isn’t a lesson on how to plot.

This is a musing on how plotting happens.

Which means?

I was shoveling a foot of snow out of my driveway last Tuesday afternoon and I found myself plotting. I’ve been in a restaurant trying to keep my mind on the conversation at my table, and found myself plotting. I’ve been watching a movie, and found myself plotting.

It’s insidious. It creeps into my consciousness no matter what I’m doing. It’s either the story I’m currently working on or it’s the one I’m planning to work on next. It’s a new character that’s begging to be introduced or an old character that does something unexpected. It’s the answer to the corner I’ve painted myself into. It’s the ending I didn’t see coming.

Plotting is a fluid process. Even when I’ve carefully laid the story out scene by scene, I’m often surprised by an idea that seems to pop into my head. It’s what makes writing so much fun.

But not always for those who have to live with you. Sometimes my husband will be chattering away and suddenly he’ll stop and look at me. “You haven’t heard a thing I’ve said, have you?” he’ll ask.

He doesn’t even wait for an answer. “You’re plotting, aren’t you?”

Can’t deny it. I’m a writer. It’s what I do.

Except during the Super Bowl this year… Best.Superbowl.Ever.

So, how about you? Where do you do your best plotting?

Jeanne C. Stein
Jeanne Stein is the award winning, national bestselling author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles. Anna Strong was named one of Paranormal Fantasy’s Top ten Ass-Kicking Heroines by Barnes and Nobles’s reviewer, Paul Goat Allen in 2013. Jeanne also has numerous short story credits, including the novella, Blood Debt, from the New York Times bestselling anthology, Hexed. Jeanne lives in Denver, CO and is active in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers (where she was honored by winning the Writer of the Year award in 2008.) She has taught at numerous conferences and on-line academies. Her newest venture, The Fallen Siren Series, is paranormal romance written in collaboration with Samantha Sommersby under the pseudonym S. J. Harper. The first book in that series, Cursed, debuted last year. A prequel novella, Captured, is available free on Amazon and the second book in the series, Reckoning, will be released October 7. More about Jeanne on her website.

5 thoughts on “Plotting

  1. I like Shannon’s observation that some brains frolic off on their own. Mine frolics whenever I’m doing something mindless (mopping the floor, pulling weeds in the garden, watching political debates…).

  2. I understand about the mindless activity, Pat. I have learned to harness the night. I sometimes suffer from AMS (Active Mind Syndrome) –you know, that time when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I tell myself, “Okay, damn it. If you’re going to refuse a good night’s rest, you might as well work.” I then ask myself how I can solve my current plot problems. I get into my character’s head. The solutions may surface then. If they do, I grab my phone and make brief notes, and then I can sleep. If no solutions present themselves, I may dream about it.

  3. Hi Jeanne, I get my best plotting ideas while driving. The trick then is to remember them, but usually they’re strong enough that I don’t have to write them down. It’s difficult for me to plot intentionally. I’ve learned that the trick is to coach my mind with positive thoughts like, How can I fix this problem? What are three different ways I could make this scene sharper? Evidently the sub-conscious mind likes the challenge, and will pop in answers when I’m not thinking about it. At least it works for me. However it was difficult to switch from my more common thoughts of, Good grief, I’ll never be able to fix this, or this is so boring. I should throw it out. I guess negative thoughts are easier than positive ones.

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