Discover more from The Next Novel
One of the realizations I had thanks to my writing group’s last writers’ room is that I’m way further along in this novel than I thought, at least in one sense.
I came into the session wanting to brainstorm more creepy things my creepy character could do to establish his creepiness. I listed all the things he’s doing already, in what I had been thinking of as the first 20% of the novel. He invites the narrator — who is half his age and his subordinate at work — over for dinner alone at his house. He gives her extravagant gifts. He invites her to use his pool while he’s not home and then appears mid-swim and watches her. He alternately praises and harshly critiques her work. He shows up at her other job and pretends not to know her. The list went on and on, and when I was done listing, I said, “So what else?” And everyone said, “Enough.”
There are enough things happening. As soon as they said it, it was so obvious to me, and it applies to all my other characters and plot lines, too. What I’ve been thinking of as the setup to the action is actually most of the action.
I spent some time this week visualizing the four main plot lines on color-coded sticky notes and then organizing all the scenes into chapters.
Most of it’s there, but — UGH — action does not equal plot. There are a lot of things happening and nothing really makes sense yet. I’ve been writing by instinct, which has left me with a lot of holes and a lot of “ But why?” and I’m just kind of going on faith that it’s all going to come together.
My husband, who is not a writer but is very good at listening to me talk about this book, asked the annoyingly correct question, “Have you written out your characters’ motivations?” No, no I haven’t. And yes, I probably should. So that’s my assignment for this week: what do all these weirdos want?