ness writes about writing

Alas, woe is me – for my plot has dribbled off …

I started a story in March. Typical me, rushing in with only the bare bones of an idea and a couple of sentences of plot. It lasted two chapters and a half before my enthusiasm and attention tapered off.

I didn’t pick up the threads of the story until July when I came home from America. ‘Right,’ I thought, ‘I’ll make this into a short Novela and have it finished by August. 30,000 words will do the trick.’

Using three sheets of paper from an A5 notebook, I plotted Acts One, Two and Three, using mind map bubbles. Act One was written with ease, Act Two is now officially done.

… and it started off so well!

And then I was unfortunate enough to take a good look at Act Three and think, ‘Well, this isn’t going to work.’

It was too skeletal, too bare. And also only enough for a handful of chapters, certainly not for a conclusive and satisfactory third act.

Which leaves me with the task of plotting a coherent and interesting Act Three that ties the story together and finishes the tale in a manner that leaves me with a satisfied sigh.

So now I’ve got a fresh sheet of paper, a pen (a beautiful, brand new, amazing pen that is a dream to write with) and the question ‘What If-?’ to throw at every scenario.

Act Three? Meet my pen.

This pen. This very frightening pen. Particularly to all bad plot lines and holes.


ness writes about writing

Snapshots of a Future Novel

Often I do little planning for a writing project; I set out what needs to happen and then simply plop myself down and write. I’ve never really gotten very far with giving detailed background to characters – the background comes as they are written; as they take a personality.

But, with the help of OneNote, I’ve been experimenting. Planning and plotting. I’ve found simply writing snippets of dialogue helpful.

For instance:

“I’m going to kill him,” announced the woman.

 She was met with disbelieving stares.

 “I am.” she insisted, voice trembling.

 “You couldn’t harm a worm,” said Robyn.

 “I stabbed you didn’t I?”

 It gives more flavour than the dry lines of “character A wants to kill character Z” … but it also gives me questions – why has she stabbed Robyn? Does she consider him a threat? Why does Robyn think her weak? Who are the people giving her ‘disbelieving stares’?

Robyn glared at him.

 “You know,” said Will, “the ballads are wrong about you – they say you are merry.”

 “Nay,” countered Robyn, “they say that my men are merry.”

 “To make up for their leader’s failings, no doubt.”

So I’m writing potential pieces of dialogue which may or may not be included in the actual novel. Yes, it may change – these things often do – but it gives me an idea, a tone. A snippet of a character, a setting, a plot. It tells me that maybe this character needs to be like this or avoid that; that this is an exciting twist or that is simply bonkers.

And as these little snapshots come – erratically, from the beginning, the middle and the end – the ideas flow. And the story grows.

from the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

Happy Christmas!