Rhobin’s topic for September is about plotting. She wonders what, in designing our plots, we rely on most: personal experience, imagination or research.
This is a really difficult question to answer because its list of choices belies the delicate meshing of these three aspects of writing. They intertwine in a seamless fashion in my practice.
INMAGINATION – probably takes the lead, if I have to choose, because if you weren’t imagining, how would you progress to story? Say you’re on the bus and have to listen to a drunk setting the world to rights, by their way of thinking. It’ll be garbled non-sense, but it will have grains of their experience buried in the damaged psyche. So my writer’s brain is already at work. Did he say his mother had no time for him because she was an actress? Did she say her father had no time for her because she was female? On and on, over and over till the essence of story is distilled. That probably leads on to:
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE – so, discounting the inciting incident, be it drunk on bus, toddler having tantrum, stray deer in garden, I will consider what my wider experience of life can bring to the fledgling idea. In particular, I am influenced by place. Ocasionally, I experience a wash of feeling that alerts me to a theme long buried in my subconscious. I can only compare it to the hormonal reactions we all have when confronted by some circumstances. There’s a story here and it wants/needs to break free. This scene in the nether regions of a country house underpinned quite a few stories:
I can almost smell bleach just looking at it now. And that brings me rather neatly to:
RESEARCH – because memory is notoriously faulty, research is needed. I write historical romance, but I do not make up the history. I write contemporary magazine fiction, but I don’t know everything about anything, really. One of the things I find about research, particularly when working in the historical genre, is that often I don’t know what I need to know when I start writing. I will have read a lot around and in the area, studied maps of the time, looked at fashion plates, but there comes that moment of uncertainty. When were scissors invented? What year was the window tax?
Another thought provoking topic from Rhobin. Thank you Ma’am. Other writers give their take and you can read them from the links below.
Capital Writers will have a bit of news shortly. Come back soon to find it out.
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1IK
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Anne Stenhouse https://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobincourtright.com