Method: Stream of Consciousness Plotting

I have officially completed episode two, which (if it were a TV show) would be the end of the two-part introduction. Episode two is longer than I wanted, but I think I am happy with the ending. I think it got the payoff it needed.

But now I am adrift, with many major milestones ahead and no idea how to get them. I have a map (which I am pretty proud of) so I have a literal roadmap; the question is, what happens on the way there.

This is a trick of mine that over the years I’ve ended up employing more and more, almost to the point that I consider it the first and roughest draft of anything I write. I sit down and write to myself. Just thinking about the problem doesn’t help me; it’s too easy to get distracted. So instead I write it as if I’m talking to myself, asking myself questions, answering them, exploring the different options, identifying problems and figuring out why it’s a problem, then what to do about it. Here’s a little example of what I was working out earlier today:

The issue of Iolië’s feet is bothering me. They are cut; cuts could get infected. She has no shoes. Marrok can make her shoes using local plants and her cloak, but him immediately getting involved in taking care of her makes me uncomfortable because a) it smacks to me of the healer romance trope, and b) it feels intrusive. On the other hand, he and First Fang are going to be dragging her in the chest plate for the next few days, so it’s not an immediate concern. Okay, I like that. After a couple days he can broach the issue of shoes.

So they compare notes, then make their plans. The news about Qawati would elicit some comment. They would all shake their heads together over Samahir. It gives them a little bit of bonding time.

That’s not supposed to make much sense to you and if there are any spoilers, they’re the most pathetic spoilers ever, but that’s how the first draft of the scene and then the episode begins. While I was frustrated to not be able to immediately launch into episode 3, I managed to refine where I was going within a page or so of talking to myself. It started out insanely broadly, just because there’s almost too much too consider; I’ve given myself a flexible framework here, so I could easily spend three or four episodes on Having Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew. I had to distill it down. It’s kind of the opposite of brainstorming. Instead of trying to come up with more ideas, I’m deliberately weeding them out.

I never get as far as actually writing out that x, y, and z will happen in this order in the scene; I don’t want to get too restrictive, and I don’t write to any but the broadest outline, as that’s usually counterproductive for me. Just talking it out to myself usually gives me some parameters to operate within, and then I’ve still got room to surprise myself.

Hopefully that’s a helpful tip for any other aspiring writers out there. I got going on the first scene of episode three, and it’s exciting to be this far along.

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