Sunday, January 08, 2006

And behind the curtain...

Engaged in a hefty bit of backplotting. Well, that's what I call it, anyway. It's where you write down what happens in your story from the bad guy's perspective. What's going on behind the scenes while the heroes do their thing in front. I sort of always have what's going on off scene in the back of my head, but sometimes that's not clear enough. Particularly on mysteries, I'm finding. If you know where your bad guys are every step of the way, then it becomes much easier to see where you have to place your hero to thwart them. I did a ton of backplotting on my last story, "Blood Games," when I got stuck. I actually had the same problem on that story that I do on this novel: too many different ways the story could go. I had so many variants I couldn't keep them all straight. And each one had something going for it, something I really liked, so I couldn't rule them out off the top of my head. Until I looked at it from the bad guy's point of view. Then all the myriad endings dropped away and only one was left. That's the one I wrote.

So with all the problems I've been having on the novel, this was the only logical step left for me to take to work things out. And once again, it seems to have worked beautifully. All the myriad possibilities have dropped away just by knowing when one bad guy places a call to another, when one arrives from out of town, when an arrest order goes out. You'll never read those scenes in the novel, but they're happening nonetheless. You'll just see the results.

I know what happens now in the next two chapters. And I know how I have to revise the last two chapters first before I can move forward.

And this thrills me no end.

1 comment:

  1. I sort of always have what's going on off scene in the back of my head, but sometimes that's not clear enough. Particularly on mysteries, I'm finding.

    Yup! In How to Write a Damn Good Mystery, James N. Frey advocates plotting out the whole crime and what your baddies do to try to cover it up. Then you can have your good guys (and readers) uncovering this, and everyone reacting to each other...ever since reading his book, I've done a lot more "What's going on off-screen" thinking about my stories. Where are certain characters when they're not in the scene? What are they up to? You're right, with mysteries that's especially important. Then everything actually makes sense when you get to the "reveal" section...

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