Let’s say that inspiration strikes you–zap!
You have an idea: a family moves into a new neighborhood and discovers that the house next door contains zombies.
Zowee-wow! You’re excited. You’re eager to write. You can see the opening sequence vividly in your mind’s eye:
There’s the teenage boy slouching out the backdoor at twilight to take out the trash. He realizes the terrible smell isn’t coming from the dented trash can on the back porch but instead from the Steadman basement twelve feet away. He looks up, sees a shape shambling toward him from the shadows. He drops the trash. Tries to scream. Stumbles backward, but the door is locked. His younger sister has flipped the deadbolt. She’s laughing at him through the glass. He bangs on the door, shrieking now, but she doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. When he looks over his shoulder, the first creature has reached the porch steps. Another is staggering into view. And another. He vaults over the railing and is saved from breaking his ankles by landing in the overgrown azalea bushes. Scrambling to his feet, he flees. The zombies turn and pursue him.
What fun to write whatever’s inspired you. You feel on top of the world. You’re certain you have something viable, something others will enjoy reading. You’re psyched to keep writing what happens next.
Only … what will come next?
Much of the time, my writing students cook up story ideas that are far superior to my cliched zombie example. But once these fledgling writers envision a major scene, they become stuck. Some can’t figure out how to advance their protagonist to the next plot point.
Do you encounter this problem of transforming inspiration into plot?
Are you able to envision your key scenes, but can’t move your characters from one to the next?
Do you clearly see your opening and your ending, but you have no idea of what to do in the middle?
Then it’s time you learned how to connect the plotting dots.
In the series to come, I’ll be sharing tips on how to plot from start to finish.
Here’s Tip #1: Know how you want the story to end.
It gives your plot a destination. That will immediately affect what parts of your idea you’re going to keep and what you’re going to delete.