Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Love Story of Plotting

Somewhere between a trip to Target and gassing up my car the other day, I fell in love. Well, I fell in lust. The love comes later.

Not with a person (unless characters can be counted), but with a story idea. And reflecting on that, I realized that there’s not too much of a difference between the two. See here:

Stage 1: Infatuation

Your early stages of attraction are marked by near constant thoughts of him (Er, him is the story. I should make that clear.). You see signs of him everywhere, and even a look brings excitement. When he’s gone, you obsess over the details of your last encounter. The plot possibilities he whispers send chills up your spine. You wonder when the next inspiration will come, and if it seems too long, you will seek him out. But the thought that there might be more to him than just a passing infatuation – that’s the real hook.

Stage 2: Early Romance

You think about him just as often, although it takes some serious flirtation to bring about the same titillations. You’ve shared a few casual conversations, checking out compatibility. Is he the kind of plot to match up with the story you want to write? Is he really as charming as he first seemed? Early on, things are looking good. You drop a few hints that you’d like to know more about him. Although it’s much too early for a commitment, you’re definitely interested.

Stage 3: Love

Time has passed and you’re getting to know each other quite well. You can see he’s got substance and heart, and just the right amount of humor. You’ve started testing the relationship on your friends and those you trust, and so far, he’s winning their approval. Could he be the one – the story that you decide it worth a long-term commitment? You begin putting everything you have into this relationship, ready to test that out.

Stage 4: Crisis

You’ve had your first big fight. Lately, all you can see are his flaws – how could you have overlooked them all this time, they were so obvious! You never expected him to be perfect, but there’s just so many plot holes, and scenes that aren’t working. You’ve had a lot of bad relationships before; is this doomed to be yet another failure? You ask yourself whether he’s fatally flawed, or are you the problem here? There are so many reasons to give up, to stick him on a shelf and hope you can fall in love again one day with someone even better. And yet you remember those early feelings of love, the promise that this relationship offered you. If you are strong enough to work through your problems, you’ll both come out stronger on the other side.

Stage 5: Commitment

For better or worse, you’ve worked through your problems and written the manuscript. You two are bonded now and there’s so much ahead for you both. There may be bumps in the road: rejections, bad reviews, poor sales. But there’s also the hope for great things: enthusiastic reviews, fan letters, and perhaps even the pitter-patter of sequels down the road. Once accepted for publication, he will always be a part of your life. The infatuation that became love has turned into an honest understanding of who you are, and who he is. And once he’s released into the world, though you may not have his story to write again, you know that a new love is just around the corner…

Jennifer’s first series, The Underworld Chronicles, wraps up in February 2012 with ELLIOT AND THE LAST UNDERWORLD WAR (Sourcebooks). She will release the first book in The Ascendance Trilogy, titled THE FALSE PRINCE (Scholastic), in Aprll 2012. And she is currently in the infatuation stage with her next series, one that she hopes is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.


Cindy Strandvold said...

Love "the pitter-patter of sequels." What a great image!

Kaz Delaney said...

OMG Jen! This was amazing. I was nodding and relating to every stage.

I'm also just beginning a new project and it as like you were inside my head.

I'll be passing this on.

What a great post and a great way to start my day. (It's about 6am here in Oz)


Margie said...

This is wonderful! And oh, so true.

Jillayne Clements said...

What an awesome post! I love it.

Jillayne Clements said...

What an awesome post! So true.

Nancy Kay Bowden said...

Great blog post! What a terrific way to illustrate the process!Now back to my own stage three! (Thanks for providing the link on teenlitauthors!)

June Shaw said...

Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing it.