Friday, January 05, 2007


Okay, I've roiled scenes around in my head for my current WIP (Work In Process.) I've also come to the conclusion I'm not at all happy with where the story is going, so I'm calling in the reserves. By this, I mean I'm consulting with a few friends who will brainstorm with me. This is all part of the Plotstorming process for me, as at some point in my novel, I usually like to run aspects of my story by people so they can keep me from making a huge mistake by investing myself into something that will not work in the end. I think I've said this before, but I'll reiterate that creating outstanding characters is of utmost importance. I'm thinking the reason I'm running into a wall with this story is that I've underestimated my characters. I don't know them well enough, or as well as I thought.
So over the next few days, I'm going to switch direction. Instead of trying to nail down all my plot points, I'm going to delve deeper into my characters. Into their pasts, into their secrets, into their personalities. Find out what makes them tick. Find out anything in their background that I hadn't thought of yet. Investigate their motives, their goals, their internal struggles. Then I'm going to do what most pansters do....
I'm going to hand the plot over to them and let them take over, run wild with it.
This is all part of Plotstorming for me, my method. I mentioned before I HAVE to know my characters before I can write the book.
I believe my first book sold largely because the hero was very likable. He made that story. I also had a secondary character in there who I had to tone down because she nearly overshadowed the heroine. So I gave that secondary character her own starring role in book two. She's the heroine. In revisions, one of the things my editors had me do was strengthen my heroine's character. I did that by changing her internal conflict from one of being a worry-wart and struggling with choosing faith over fear, to something entirely different. It completely changed the book, and changing her altered the plot significantly...and made it a much stronger book in my opinion.
So what I'm working on in the next two days as far as Plotstorming is:
Getting with a couple other writers either by IM or email, or phone and hashing out this plot. Getting ideas and running ideas by them, figuring out whether my characters goals, motivations, conflicts are going to be strong enough to sustain a story and bouy a plot.
Some great reference books that will help you if you're trying to grasp the concept of GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) are as follows:
GMC by Debra Dixon
Getting into Character by Brandylin Collins
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
Techniques of a Selling Writer by Dwight Swain
There are several more, books by Donald Maas, and Jack Bickham as well, but the above will get you started.
For goal, I ask myself, "What does my character want?" The story goal has to be something concrete that the character can obtain or make happen within a time frame. For romance, it just can't be only the guy's goal is to get the girl, the girl's goal is to snag the guy. It has to be more than that. In my book that sold, my heroine wanted to adopt the little boy. That was her story goal. The hero wanted to be able to keep his promise to the little boy without running into the uncle who destroyed his family. I ask myself, "What does my character want more than anything in the world? What is MOSt important to them? What is their number one dream? etc."
For Motivation, I ask myself, "Why does this character want this goal? What happened in their past to cause them to pursue this? Etc.) What drives them? What motive? What reward? Etc. Exactly WHY do they want this (goal)?
For Conflict, I rub my hands together and cackle with a wicked glint in my eye, and ask myself, "Now..what can I do to throw a series of wrenches in the character's paths and plans that will keep them from getting the goals I've dangled before them?" "How can I keep making things worse and worse without overplotting?" "How can I make the reader think there is no possible way that everything is going to turn out okay between this hero and heroine, and cause angst over the characters reaching their goals or obtaining their dreams?" This is conflict. Your readers should feel it, and most certainly, your characters should feel it.
Okay, so I know what my problem is. I need to be sure their goals are solid enough to sustain a plot and make the story interesting enough for someone to want to buy.
More another day, for today, I'm going to Brainstorm with friends and see what kinds of havock I can create for my defenseless characters.

-- Gal. 2:20 Pouring my vial of words over Him.

A SOLDIER'S PROMISE~ Steeple Hill Love Inspired~ Jan. 2008

1 comment:

christa allan said...

Cheryl--When you do your "character bonding," I'm assuming that you're writing it all down of course. But do you write it as if you are the character or as a bio of the character?