Tag Archives: plotting

Wrangling Runaway Stories

J. Leigh would like to officially apologize for not blogging in ages.  J. Leigh has been very busy.

J. Leigh will now stop referring to herself in the third person.

Funny how so often my ideas for blog posts are spawned by the various and sundry issues I face while trying to write.  So right now, I’m struggling with what I imagine is a common predicament for writers — stories that just won’t behave.

As I embarked on the sequel to Down a Lost Road, I decided to be a responsible writer and start with a plot outline.  Then I got carried away and actually started a chapter outline.  So there I was, doing a fairly reasonable job following my outlines, when all of a sudden my characters went and got themselves into trouble.  Seriously, I don’t know how they did it.  One minute, they were traipsing along the outlined path, and then, just like that, everything went wrong.

It totally wasn’t my fault, but I wrote them into a corner.  Literally.

So now what?

Let me make up a fictitious example of a runaway story, so I don’t go giving away exciting spoilers about Subverter.

Let’s say you have a character, Bob.  Bob is a rather ordinary soul who is summoned to undertake an extraordinary adventure to SAVE THE WORLD (might as well be cliche, right?).  So Bob goes on a QUEST.  On his way he meets two MIGHTY WARRIORS named Bill and Ted (heh. O.o).  They have a nice chat about SAVING THE WORLD, then Bob goes on his way.  Two cities later, he runs into the SUPREME EVIL BADDY‘s henchman, Vator and Soron.  In your plot outlining, this was the point where Bob secretly spies on Vator and Soron, discovering the true extent of their EVIL SCHEMES, then escaping unnoticed to warn the Impressive Duke of Aussom of the threat.

But unfortunately, as your fingers move over the keyboard, strange new words start flowing onto the screen.  Bob falls from his perch above Vator and Soron, landing right in the midst of their EVIL SCHEMING.  After a moment of shock, when Bob might have gotten away, Vator wields MIGHTY MAGICKS and delivers a devastating wound on poor Bob, while Soron LAUGHS MANIACALLY from the background.  Vator is weakened by his mighty spell, and Soron is laughing so hard his evil eyes are blinded by tears, so Bob seizes the opportunity to claw his way into a DINGY CELLAR.  There he locks himself in as he quavers on the edge of unconsciousness.

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Pocket God — or How to Be a Mean Author

So, a while back I heard about this phone app called Pocket God.  I kind of wanted a smart phone just to be able to play this game.  Basically, the idea was you get this little man that you can torture in all kinds of fun ways.  You can strike him with lightning, or feed him to sharks, or any number of equally cruel and painful things.

We can learn several important life lessons from Pocket God…at least from a writer’s perspective.

First, as writers, we can and should inflict pain and horrific experiences on our characters.

Second, pain should never be frivolous.

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