Thursday, November 5, 2009

Need Help With Plotting?

Slim Randles is a syndicated columnist and author, and his work is featured on, the online community magazine where I am Managing Editor. He has graciously allowed me to use one of his recent columns here, and I hope you enjoy his take on plotting...

Dud was in a quandary. It was all about Randy Jones and Katie Burchell. There was something so … exquisite about them finding each other and walking around town holding hands. Exquisite, that was the word.

Dud Campbell pulled the tiny notebook out of his back pocket and wrote down: “Randy and Katie, exquisite.”

He’d read this article about writing where it said you should keep a notebook and jot down an idea when it hit you. That way, you won’t have to wonder, “What was that word I had that described Randy and Katie walking around town holding hands.”

And, the article said, you don’t worry about a plot, but you just keep making notes. Make notes and when you fill one book, put it in a drawer and start on another. Before you know it, a plot will come along, and you’ll be ready to write it.

Dud loved reading these articles, because he knew if he just followed the suggestions, his murder mystery about the duchess and the truck driver would eventually take care of itself. If he just had some insight on what happened between Randy and Katie, he’d be able to do a flashback thingie to let his readers know how a duchess and a truck driver found happiness in each other’s arms.

On the surface, a truck driver and a duchess don’t seem to have a lot in common, but he’d been working on that, too. He had several ideas jotted down in the notebook: books they enjoyed reading, watching old movies on television, polka dancing. He wasn’t sure that duchesses liked polka dancing, but he was pretty sure truck drivers didn’t like waltzes, and that’s all you saw duchesses doing.

Dud had some time, so he followed the young couple from a block away, hoping his keen senses would discern the hidden secret to this relationship. He saw them smile on small children and butterflies, their smiles beaming a benediction and blessing on all they met, as though they were pilgrims on a quest for eternal secrets.

Hey, that was pretty good. He whipped out the notebook again and leaned against a mailbox to write it down.


Brought to you by “Sun Dog Days,” by Slim Randles, now available at --------- Slim Randles Web site


Posted by Maryann Miller who is so thankful that Slim shares his wit and wisdom with the readers of Visit Maryann's Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.

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  1. I have the feeling that, somehow, Dud is gonna pull off this meeting between the Duchess and the truck driver - or end up having an adventure of his own.

    Straight From Hel

  2. You might be right Helen. Part of the fun of Slim's columns is that these recurring characters go down really interesting paths.

  3. He'll either pull off a really interesting story or be arrested for stalking. *lol*

    Great post.

  4. That last paragraph. Oh, my. Has DARLING written all over it. LOL.


  5. Interesting take on plotting! I've read comments by well-known mystery writers who say they plot every detail before they write a word. Then there are others who state they create characters and let them take off with plot.
    Myself, I'm somewhere in between. I do outline, but sometimes my characters surprise me.

    Jacqueline Seewald
    THE DROWNING POOL, Five Star/Gale 2009
    THE INFERNO COLLECTION, Five Star hardcover, Wheeler large print

  6. Jacqueline, I like Dud's way of plotting better. Less work and I think it might be more fun. :-)

  7. There's always some connection where you least expect it, like how you can go somewhere far away and run into someone you know or knows someone you know.

    Writing in notebooks to firm out a plot is a good idea. Sometimes, I think of something when I'm in bed or from a dream and hurry up and write it down on a piece of paper by my bed table before I forget it.

    Morgan Mandel

  8. Enjoyed reading this. I actually do carry around a pocket notebook so I can jot down ideas. I use it a lot especially for my poetry because as lines come to me I like to write them down and then develop the poem from there. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

  9. Brian, every writer carries a notebook, and if they don't, they should. You never know when an idea might grab you.

  10. I carry a notebook, although I rarely refer back to it. The act of simply writing down the idea seems to cement the thought in my memory.

    But without the notebook, I'm a goner.

  11. That is how I got involved in romance-my protagonists had that perfect instant chemistry and I had no choice but to let them develop their story.
    Margot Justes


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