Today, I finished 28 plot points for my new novel. One, hopefully, for each chapter. I don’t always write that many, but I didn’t want the novel to have “soft” spots, so I wanted to see where the twists fell and how the tension built. I might change things as I go, but at least I have sign posts to guide the way. So hip, hip, and time to hit the keys! I had an awesome thing happen to me while I plotted, though. A close friend and fellow writer started e-mailing me questions about my new characters. What brings them together? she asked. What pushes them apart? How does one’s divorce affect him? How does it affect his relationships with women? I had character wheels for anyone important in my story, but her questions prodded me to think of my characters in a new way, in a different light.
Her questions made me think of the dynamics of the story–the interactions and their aftermaths. She plots in an interesting way. She draws circles for each of her main characters and has them arc over one another, so that the area that Circle A and Circle B share are where those two characters interact and how. And that reminded me of a writers’ group in town that used to meet to brainstorm their story ideas and plots. My writers’ group rarely does that. We all tend to struggle with our characters and their journeys on our own, then we write pages and share them. But when we do that, and we have what we think we need to start a book, or when we’re stymied and unsure, I wonder if it would help to brainstorm with each other BEFORE we put too many words on paper. I can’t decide if that would help me or confuse me. Would it send me off in the wrong direction for me? Have any of you out there tried it? Did it work for you? Just curious:)