Friday, June 20, 2008

The Voices in Gracen's Head

Hi, all! *waves* I hope everyone has had an awesome week. Mine has involved two family surgeries, one friend surgery and my ten-year-old son being away at football camp for four days. I did not handle the camp as well as I had hoped. Trusting total strangers with my child was not an easy feat. I managed, he managed, but ultimately he did miss me and was ready to come home. Score one for the home team! ;-)

So, while it may not have sounded like it, I did plot out those sentences above. I wish I could plot out my storyline like Sierra, I really do. It would annihilate those moments of “writer’s block” because I’d always know where I was going next. But I do not outline anything. And while I think plotting can be a tricky business, it’s not something I am capable of doing at the beginning of a book. I enjoy learning about the characters as I write them. It’s a learning experience for us all because it’s almost like we’re new friends getting to know one another.

Basically, I know who the characters are, what they’re like, and what their major flaws or strengths are. I even know what their bare core personality traits are—their deep dark secretes, so to speak—but the rest works itself out as the storyline progresses.

Sometimes I surf the web looking for a particular physical trait that expresses the outward characteristics of my character. I keep a copy of that picture until I finish the book to give me inspiration. For instance, I have one character that was modeled after Brad Pitt in Troy, except I added a goatee to the character (another picture I found of Brad Pitt). I have another modeled after Michael Greyeyes in Stolen Women, Captured Hearts, which I believe was a Lifetime Movie Network original movie. But those were easy because the characteristics were given to me by Mother Nature’s brush strokes.

Typically, the women are created in my head, given details as those features come up. And like Sierra, I save a folder with physical traits and other pertinent facts about the characters. I forget throughout the course of writing if I gave them green or blue eyes or if they have golden blonde or golden brown hair. Truly the physical characteristics are not that important to me. Instead it’s all about the storyline, the heat, the conflict and how it’s all going to be resolved—so, basically, it’s all about the plot.

Plotting out the storyline is never done. I start with a general concept and have no idea where it’s going when I start fleshing out the story. Things happen all the time that I could not have conceived of in the beginning. I’ve mentioned before that I say I “channel write” because I get so involved in the storyline that it simply flows from my brain to my fingers as I type. Sometimes there is very little thinking involved, so it just writes itself or it seems to anyway. As crazy as it may sound, I listen to the voices in my head and I write what they tell me to write. That means that by the time I get to the end of the story, I typically have to fix at least one plot line basic because it started out with one concept, but by the end was something else entirely. Typically, however, I do not have too many plotlines to fix because it generally flows from the original thought.

Because I listen to the voices in my head, I sometimes write stories that I intended to write in a different sequence. For instance, I am writing book two to my witch/vampire story, which was about sister “A”. I had intended to write the second book on sister “B”, but sister “C” wouldn’t shut up about her story. Seriously, “C” was keeping me awake at night with her storyline. It was frustrating, but she was determined. Needless to say, she wore me down and I am now writing “C’s” story because the crazy witch did not give me a choice. And since it doesn’t change the storyline left hanging from sister “A’s” storyline, it did not matter that I am writing them out of order. What it means is that sister “C” had a louder voice than sister “B”.

So, that’s my plotting style. As disorganized as it seems, it strangely works for me. And now that you think I’m a little bit crazy, or as Margaret Leigh suggested—schizophrenic—tell me what you think, how you write your plots, your characters, how you create your characters, their traits, and personalities—whatever? Or tell me something else about your plotting when you’re writing. And if you’re not a writer, tell me what you like best about the plotting in the books you read. Or tell me something else entirely different…I’m listening.

Have a great weekend everyone!

4 deadly screams:

Sierra Wolfe said...

Great post Gracen. Wow, you had a rough week. I hope everyone's surgeries went ok. That's a lot of surgeries in one week!

I also look for pictures on the web for my characters, not every time, but sometimes I do. It makes it easier for me to visualize them if I have a picture to look at. But a lot of times, I can't find one that looks like I think the character should, or it takes too many hours trying to find them so I give up.

Gracen Miller said...

Hi, Sierra. I don't always look for pictures on the internet either. Sometimes I already have a picture in my head of what they should look like. Six in The Devil's Den isn't modeled after anyone and neither is the fella in the book I'm writing now.

Everyone's surgeries went well, thanks. I'm glad it's over and now everyone has to focus on recooperating. No easy task for one of them who had back surgery.

I hope you have a great weekend, Sierra.

Margaret Leigh said...

Oh, I can so relate to this post! I don't plot either as I mentioned in my interview and basically spend the time just getting to know my characters and their story as I tell it. It's nice to know I am not alone.

Great post, Gracen. Sending positive energy in your direction for all those recuperating family members.

Meg

Gracen Miller said...

LOL, Meg. I know how you feel. When I read your blog, I was like OMG, we write exactly the same way! :-)