So, I went to Starbucks this morning for a write-in, and though I didn’t actually see the other people in the write-in until I’d been there a couple of hours, I did have a very productive morning. I wrote just over 2500 words, which brought my total up to… 33,064! Yay!
I finished one scene, the one I’d been working on yesterday, and then decided the scene I had next in my queue wasn’t really a scene that I was ready to write, not quite yet. More needed to happen in the narrative, first.
So I tried something that I think has been suggested by Orson Scott Card, amongst others. I sat down, and tried to think of twenty ideas of things that could happen next. I mostly focused on things to happen to Dexter, just because I’d just finished a scene with her. It was a really interesting experiment. The idea is that by the time you hit 17 or so, you’ve gone through all the obvious choices, and so your muse starts working over time, and comes up with something really cool.
I thought I’d share, not just the list itself, but what I thought of the ideas I came up with–actually, I ended up with 21, because as I was writing a really boring rehash of other ideas for 20, just to be done with it, I came up with one more.
1: Apologizes to Luke (goes nowhere interesting)
2: Researches ghosts. (research is boring…)
3: Tries to call up spirit of Mrs. Wright (Hm. Maybe.)
4: Talks to Kevin. (no conflict)
5: Tells Sally about the ghosts. (Her coworker. Eh. Maybe if Dexter gets slightly more unhinged.)
6: Takes the rest of the day off, goes to art galleries (no conflict!)
7: Sees the cat, chases it down, some sort of major consequences. (Ooh.. kind of cool. But it should happen much later. Remember this one!)
8: Discovers that she’s become ghostlike herself. (Must. Happen. But later.)
9: Photographs. (This is the one I eventually chose–it’s actually just something I planned on doing, but wasn’t sure where I was going to put it. It works very well here!)
10: Gets in a car accident. (Hm. There are a lot of car accidents. Possibly.)
11: Goes to Kevin’s, gets in a fight with Kelly (His wife. Conflict, yes, but where does it lead?)
12: Sees another, completely new, ghost. (Yes, but why? What purpose does it serve?)
13: Goes someplace rumored to be haunted. Tries to contact that ghost. No luck. (Okay, this is good–some conflict, serves purpose of story, has a bit of a twist. Keeping this one, as a Marie scene.)
14: Starts a vicious rumor about Sally. (Okay, fine, but why? Still not quite that unhinged.)
15. Run-in with higher up at bank. (May write this scene at some point, but it needs to be more interesting/developed than this.)
16: Overhears something about getting fired: quits first. (Sort of cliché, right? Still, it works for the story. It may or may not happen this way, but it won’t happen yet.)
17: Meets Mrs. Wright’s daughter. (This is something I hadn’t really thought about, largely because I hadn’t really thought much about Mrs. Wright, considering she was a throwaway character who took on a life of her own. So to speak. Still, with some sort of actual conflict, this could be an interesting scene.)
18: Goes to talk to Sofía. (Again, this could be interesting, but is it going to add something new to the story?)
19: Looks for jobs–in California. (Doesn’t move the story ahead at all.)
20: Goes to Starbucks, sees new ghost. (Don’t hate me for this one! I was in a Starbucks! Actually, this one, when I thought of it, was kind of gruesome–I was thinking of something along the lines of a ghostly barista who makes Dexter a free coffee.)
21: Sees someone die–sees the spirit leaving the body. (Okay, so this is the one that occurred to me just as I was writing down number 20. I like it a lot–okay, so again, a cliché way to prove the existence of ghosts, but it works. May or may not use it, but if I do, I’d want to make sure to do something interesting with it.)
Okay, so here we have 21 ideas that I came up with at that Starbucks. Three of them are completely new ideas for new scenes, new conflicts, that I will be using in the novel somehow. Actually, the first two, I think are related. (Numbers 7 and 8–the consequences mentioned in 7 can be number 8). They’re useable because they fulfill certain criteria. Number one, they have conflict. Number two, they have interesting and unexpected results: a twist. Number three, they move the story forward in ways I want it to go. A lot of the ideas have some sort of conflict inherent in them, but they won’t really cause any noticeable ripples in the story. Ideally, at the end of every scene, something should have changed.
I’m writing this mostly for myself. I have a tendency to say “oh, well, this is a useable scene because there’s conflict here.” But is there change as a result of that conflict? Is the story going to go in a new direction (or with increased urgency in the same direction?) because of what’s happened in the scene? That’s what I need to remember when planning.