By Patricia Rice
Back in typewriter days, I started a book knowing nothing more than the characters and an inciting situation. I built on those, sentence by sentence—until I reached the middle, which would inevitably fall flatter than a cold soufflé for lack of structure.
Once I had deadlines to meet, it became obvious that I didn’t have time to muddle with the middle, I needed to learn plotting. But I’m an organic writer and my muse requires words on the page to create inspiration.
Thus became Pat’s Pathetic Plot Plan. Before I write that first opening sentence, I give the characters goals and internal and external conflicts. Preferably, since I usually write romance, the goals of the two protagonists will conflict. I give them fears to overcome, lessons to learn. And then I pound out two or three plot turning points that revolve around the conflicts and fears. Do not think these are profound, well-developed scenes. They resemble “Abe achieves partial goal and overcomes fear but realizes he needs Bee to achieve goal.” I use more precise goals and fears, of course, but that’s the limit of my accuracy.
And then I write my first chapter which eventually gets thrown out when I realize the story starts elsewhere, but that’s another topic.