Who Needs a Plot?

As a matter of fact, I do.

It’s interesting, but despite writing something like fifty-mumble stories for publication, I’m still pretty bad at plots. Short stories, I get away with it a little more easily. A short story, especially if its leading up to an erotic encounter, means that I just wind up two characters with vaguely compatible desires and let them crash into each other.

The longer a story gets, the less likely the wind ‘em up, let ‘em go method is to work. Eventually, people need to get dressed and go find something else to make people keep reading. I have problems with this.

I’m reasonably good at faking a plot at this point, I think. There’s a problem (homicidal ghost possession, data theft, oops-I’m-running-a-dictatorship) and eventually, there’s a solution (sexual bribery, cyberpunk shenanigans, bugger-this-for-a-game-of-soldiers, I’ll-let-myself-out-the-back).

I have honestly lost track of the amount of time I’ve wasted on writing something that is going no where. Fun characters, fun world and then they go on to do…. absolutely nothing.*

So for my notes as much as anything, here’s how I make a plot.

Make Their Lives Suck.
No one wants to read about happy people, and happy people don’t do much. Happy people sit at home, knit, have meaningful conversations with their families, pay their mortgage on time and volunteer at the animal shelter. Unhappy people sink into despair, fight their way out of despair, tame dragons, fight evil empires and engage in forbidden magic.

Invent a Villain
Every story’s got to start somewhere, and a lot of them start with someone doing something Very, Very Bad. I’m one of those contrary people who tends to prefer villains to heroes, so I think I’m just going to run with that.

Work Backwards
This thing happens where I get an image, a line, a scene or something like that, and I then I have to figure out what happened before that and after that. This is what I do a lot, and some days it works, and some days I have 3000 words worth of what-the-fuck. The days when it works are pretty cool thought. That’s kind of how I wrote Beautiful Monsters.
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Coming Soon:
More Writing! Writing Forever!
Watching the Long-Suffering Girlfriend Play Dragon Age
Four Cool Plots I Am Releasing Into the Wild
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*I don’t get it. How can going off to overthrow an evil empire be absolutely nothing? **
**When I have once again created characters who are too broken/selfish/distracted/smart to go take on an evil empire, that’s how.

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