I recently met a (lovely, talented, gracious) woman who said (kindly, sincerely): “It must be fun, being a mystery writer, and having the plot all done.”
Even as I nodded and smiled and said how much I love my life as a writer, I patted my pockets, looking futilely for my magic plot wand. Perhaps I had a kit, like the one I bought at the Museum of Natural History, on my first-ever trip to New York? It was a plastic model of a Baltimore Oriole and, as it turned out, putting it together was sheer hell on earth. I never did finish the durn thing. Too much gluing, not enough painting. A plot-writing kit, could it be developed, would probably have the same problem. Oh, it looks so pretty on the box, put together, but there is too much gluing (hard, grubby, smelly), not enough painting (delicate, satisfying, fun).
I know there are writers who have the entire plot done; I even have friends who claim this distinction. And, in fact, I have quite a bit of it figured out. But what I never know is how I’m going to transmit all this information. In fact, to stagger through a book, I often have to imagine that I’m a reporter again, working in the narrative form.
Right now, I’m mired in next year’s book. I have a long take slugged “Duh,” and nine-ish chapters. (I’d typically have more, but I lost a month to writing a novella, to be published this fall.) I have no idea how I’m going to convey the information in “Duh” to the book-in-progress. That’s why I keep folders with each draft because I can go back and see how lost I was a year ago, to the day. Yep, I was flailing.
So then I jump ahead in time and look at the book itself, which – through the magic of the Internet – you can, too. (You’ll have to cut-and-paste this link, http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061128875/Another_Thing_to_Fall/index.aspx, until I figure out why it keeps going to Jessical Seinfeld’s Decepetively Delicious.) But there are no answers there, unless you count putting sweet potatoes in brownies as an answer, not for plotting. I don’t remember how I got from draft one to draft five, only that I did.
Meanwhile, you can also count down the days and hours until it goes on sale. Another link to cut and paste: http://www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061128875/Another_Thing_to_Fall/index.aspx. (Code-savvy folks, feel free to make these work in the comments section.)