On occasion I’ve been questioned about how I create my plots, with all their complexity and details. It isn’t all that difficult, actually; it’s simply a matter of building in layers. I start with a basic, bare-bones outline. From there I flesh it out with key action, dialog, turning points, and reference notes, <<bracketed out like so>>. Scenes seen through Hazel’s eyes get yellow highlighter, Hammon’s, gray. Turning points are bookmarked and highlighted red, notes, pink. There’s still gaps, but the general storyline is complete, and that’s where I am now. The hull is solid, the engine runs, and the whole thing floats. Now it’s time to caulk the leaks, add the rigging and gear. Finally, I paint, polish, and tune things up. (revisions, revisions, revisions!)
Now I’m filling in the gaps, dumping anything that seems clunky or doesn’t work. Things will continue to shift as new inspirations come in, and it all starts to mesh and flow. Rather than losing momentum dwelling on areas that need additional attention, I throw in a <<fuzzyloris>> (see below for fuzzy little slender loris). Basically, it’s a nonsense word that has no place in the story, and I can easily search later on. And while I’m working on one spot, I realize what’s happening there requires something be established in an earlier or later chapter, but again, I don’t want to shift my attention, so I throw that on the Chevelle List. Towards the end of Last Exit, I realized a character needed to borrow a distinct, recognizable car, one solid enough to take a beating, but one without an airbag. A Chevelle fit the bill. But it was key to the plot that it be clear who owned the Chevelle, and that had to be established earlier in the book.
It’s a building process, a constant puzzle, and there’s numerous variations to how the pieces can fit. The challenge and fun comes from finding the best (or worst) possible route for the story to unfold.
This is a fuzzy little baby Slender Loris, with an expression matching mine after too many all-night writing sessions!