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Sunday, December 16, 2012

SPIN ME A WEB by author Sally J. Walker

Instinct dictates to a spider how a web must be constructed. Hm, if it were only that easy to spin the plot of a novel! 
In January, I will take participants on the journey of learning the signposts that anchor a plot’s web and the principles that link the novel’s words into a fascinating pattern for BOTH writer and reader. 
I discovered over 20 years ago that the stories I most thoroughly enjoyed had a point and charged forward toward that destination in patterns I could identify with and understand. I learned to recognize the “seat-of-the-pants” writers who took me on unnecessary side-trips or who meandered in their stories. 

Study and careful analysis resulted in an indelicate sledgehammer to my forehead: Some writers didn’t plan their story events but simply let them unfold whenever they sat down to write. The problem was I did not read as slowly as they wrote. I am a speed-reader therefore any digressions or meandering annoyed me to the “nth” degree. 

Of course, not a writer on this planet is going to spew a novel as fast as a reader can consume it, let alone a speed-reader. Understanding that as a writer, I did not want to waste my time or my reader’s imaginary energy on digressions and meanderings, thus I evolved the practice of planning the plots of my novels and screenplays via signpost events.

My creativity was not hampered by the structure. In fact, every time I sit down to a story I feel the thrill of creative energy driving toward the next signpost in my characters’ lives. Life may be illogical, messy, chaotic, but I can come and go in my character’s lives because I KNOW where they are headed. I know I will not waste their time (and the reader’s) with irrelevancies. I have control of this my imaginings.

Planning allows the writer to envision the world the characters live in at the beginning of the story. Of course, some genres—such as science fiction and fantasy--demand such awareness to depict a credible milieu the characters are living in from the first word. So, that’s a given.

My concept of planning deals with the “Big Picture” of the entire plot. That is not instinctual patterning like a spider demonstrates. Nope, it is a learned skill, the practice of connecting one event to its consequences in as enthralling and challenging a manner as possible. It is intentional progression, not seat-of-the-pants guessing that can frequently lead a writer to dead-ends and the dreaded “I don’t know what happens next.”

The key words here are “logical causality” sprinkled with the magic spice of “What if” lists. Plotting Fiction can be as easy as identifying the timing and placement of the signpost events and wording the pattern of the web the characters must tread to arrive at their ultimate destination.

So, come on, Writer, and let’s learn the skills of spinning a web that captures a reader!
Sally J. Walker, Website: www.sallyjwalker.com
Sally Walker’s published credits include literary, romance and western novels, a nonfiction essay collection, several creative writing textbooks, stage plays, poetry, and many magazine articles on the craft of writing, including staff contributions to two international film magazines. She has a YA series and several children's books waiting in the wings. With 28 screenplays written and one sold, Sally has a WGA-signatory agent representing her. In addition to long time active memberships in such national writing organizations as RWA, WWA and SCBWI, she was President of the prestigious Nebraska Writers Guild 2007-2011.She still has time to work as a small press Editorial Director for The Fiction Works, in charge of acquisitions and supervising sub-contracted editors. Sally has taught writing seminars, both on-site and on-line, for over 25 years and is the facilitator for the weekly meetings of the Nebraska Writers Workshop in Ralston, NE.
I hope you will join my class on
Hosted by
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers
This 4 WEEK class starts January 14, 2013
For more information click HERE



Nancy Lee Badger said...

Hmm...so, is it okay that yesterday I wrote the ending to a 1/3 finished manuscript? You see, I plot the book on a big poster board, so I basically know where I am going. Since I am on book #3 of a series, I have the arc to consider, too.

Amber Belldene said...

Very interesting post. I don't mind if books move a little slower than that. I read fast, but I also set down, replay scenes while at other tasks, and pick back up. And, I totally agree that a purposeful plot is a must, even if it slows down in places for world building and character development. Very thought provoking, Sally.
It leaves me wondering--do you think that there are "universal" rules for plotting, or that this is something as subjective as the rest of reading and writing?