Tuesday, October 26

A Fork in the Trail

This rider is soon going to have choose which way to go because the trail forks. Up the mountain, or down to the valley floor?
Which way is better?
Neither is better.
Both ways are great.
What does this have to do with keeping my plot on track, Margie's pick for this week's topic?
They're kind of the same, you see.
Plots and trails.
Exactly like when my daughter and I ride. Although we like familiar trails, we often take trails we've never seen before. It's part of the adventure. Not knowing what's around the bend, over the hill, or beyond the trees makes our days fun. The last day we rode this fall, we stumbled upon a lake surrounded by orange and gold aspens.
We sat and stared in awe of it's beauty for quite awhile.
We might have done that if we knew ahead of time it was there. (OK, we would have).
But it's so much fun to explore the new, the untested. This past fall, we rode four new trails we'd never seen before and each one was better than the last.
This is exactly how I feel about writing. If I were to plot, I'd enjoy the ride, just because I like to write. It's satisfying to put words on paper, either way. But to open a blank document with no idea how I'm going to get to the end, with all the twists and turns, that makes the journey all the more fun.
The other day, Eve took a turn I never saw coming. If I'd plotted ahead, it never would have happened. Like, riding an unfamiliar trail, I love to see where my characters take me. And often, something really unexpected and exciting happens.
So, Margie, my advice is to not get your plot back on track, but sit back, let Bix take the reins for awhile and see where he leads you. He just may take you somewhere unexpected, but completely wonderful. And if he doesn't, then just turn around and go back to the fork in the trail, and take the other direction.


  1. Great post. To keep my plot on track, I do something I call a plot target. I draw a small circle, and in the center write the chapter's goal. Then I draw a larger circle around this, like a bullseye. The outer circle I break up into small parts, so it looks like a game spinner. In each space, I write a bit of the scenes that drive the plot toward the center goal, whether it's dialogue snippets or action or emotions.

  2. Thanks for the post. For years I have kept from starting a novel because I don't know how it ends and what happens along the way. I don't know why I can't overcome this problem! I hook rugs and I almost never know how it's going to look when I'm done so I don't know why I can't write the same way. Wait...maybe it's because my rug has the patten drawn out but I fill in the colors. Deep I have to think on this!! Thank you!!!

  3. Great post, D'Ann! That lake you stumbled upon sounds beautiful...and when I come out to CO I wanna visit, k? :)

  4. True words in your post. Riding the same paths only wears a deeper dirt groove. I try to plot where my MS goes but often times find it skirting down some game trail I didn't notice before. And just as you sat with your leg hooked over the saddle horn in view of a beautiful lake, my characters amaze me with simple revelations. Places and thoughts I would never have, had I stuck to the designated trail.

  5. Great advice, D'Ann, I love those surprise paths we find when writing our manuscripts.

  6. Great post. I don't plot my writing. I just sit at the computer and allow my characters free rein. The trails they lead me down, the ultimate destination is always, always a surprise.

  7. Every now and then, it doesn't hurt to wander off to side trails....definitely. i've learned a lot about my characters that way! it's always a surprise (usually a nice one)...glad you found your lake, i bet it'll be a regular now in your rides!

  8. Excellent post,

    A perfect time for it, too, as I'm in plot perdition right now :)

    Thanks for the ideas.

  9. good post. I'm usually a pantzer so I hear you when you say let the story and the characters take control. I love it when the come out strong from the chute and keep buckin'. Awesome post.


  10. Thank you, all, for coming by!

  11. I agree. I love the journey of discovery almost too much to plot super far ahead. I'm going back to the fork, it's a small fork, but enough to change the tone and get back on plot. Good post. Love the trail analogy.