I attended a really great craft workshop today given by Margo Rabb. It was a workshop on plotting specifically tailored to novel writers. Though I didn't agree with every suggestion, some of the most helpful included:
- When considering a new idea for a novel, write the first 30 to 50 pages without revising and then assess the material as worthy or not
- Keep a character notebook
- Write a two-page plot treatment, written in the style of telling someone what the book's about
- Write a list of scenes connecting the beginning to the climax to the end
- Be able to describe your novel in one sentence
Another idea presented was, in plotting the book, know the ending, and work backwards. Not sure that one will work for me. For one thing, though I don't have a good idea about what will happen exactly, I have a very clear picture of what I want to accomplish in service to the emotional triumph of the characters. I worry that if I impose a plot point on that triumph, it'll be contrived.
As far as a character notebook, I do have character 3X5s that I've long since misplaced. I think a small notebook that I keep on my person is a great idea, actually, and one I've resisted only because it's one more thing to remember. I have noticed many a fellow writer here at the camp extracting small notebooks for a variety of reasons. Maybe I'm just too arrogant, and I think that I'll remember my random thoughts and overheard dialogue. Many times I do, but just as many, when trying to recall something that got me all excited earlier in the day, I draw a blank.
In any case, I'm going to do a 2-page plot sketch, just for fun. Maybe I'll even come up with an ending.