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What Came First: the Plot, the Character, or Something Else

The dirty secret of my current work-in-progress is that I’m still trying to find the plot. What came first was the main character. She has goals she wants to achieve, problems that she’s trying to fix, and a lot of room for personal growth. As I continue to get a handle on who she is, I work out the obstacles that she needs to face in order to get where she wants to be. That also means that further complications arise to hold her back.

It’s a messy way to write. I’ve never written anything this way before. The whole thing is experimental for me, and I’m actually enjoying it. As I go along I’m finding the beats, and in the second draft I will need to add things for continuity. Scenes will need to be moved around so it flows better as a story and makes sense. Yet I still don’t have a cohesive through line. She’s just wandering around from scene to scene, event to event, trying to make sense of things.

Hopefully hindsight will be 20/20 as it is in real life, and by the end of the first draft I’ll understand how this all fits together. It would be easier if I began with the plot first. In my current writing niche, the way of things is to create the story and then drop the characters into it to see how they react. I made a conscious decision not to do that with this novel.

What Came First: the Plot, the Character, or Something Else

Okay reader, how do you plan your novel? You don’t have to be a participant in The Merry Writer game to play along here!

The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.

One reply on “What Came First: the Plot, the Character, or Something Else”

Well , This is omewhat similar to the way I write. I have no problem creating characters and have notebooks full of them. But, I have trouble with then a creating a setting to anchor them in and to use for fleshing them out. The hope is once I have a reasonable detailed setting and cast of characters, the plot will organically unfold with a minimum of prompting. Essentially, a campaign for solo narrative game. I have had hundreds of stops and starts attempting to creating a setting that comes alive for me.

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