Photo by Dominic's pics via Flickr
In a similar vein to Monday’s post I’m going talk about another one of the many tips James Scott Bell has in his book PLOT & STRUCTURE. (Really a great book. You should get it. No, I don’t work for his marketing team. Why do you ask?)
Anyways, his suggestion was about how to come up with original ideas. He said that when you come to an important part in your book (a twist, a life-changing event for the character, or the end) you should let your mind wander and jot down ten ideas about what could happen. The next day you go back to the ideas and think about two or three of the ones that appeal most to you. This way you can have a more original plot instead of one with the scenes unfolding the very first way you imagined them (and also probably the very first way most other people will imagine them). And as he pointed out, you don’t have to end up using them, but it will help you to look at your plot in a different light or it might give you an idea for some other part of the plot.
Now, I was pretty hesitant when I read this at first—I’m a plotter with PowerPoint slides to keep everything just right. Abandon my pre-planned plot from six months ago? Never. Impossible! I mean, I’ve thought about it so many times that I can’t even imagine anything going differently. But no matter how brilliant your plot is, it’s always helpful to take another look at it—maybe a plot hole will pop up, or you will really be validated in your brilliance. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to. Soon. I just came up with a shiny new outline for a book yesterday (sort of yesterday, I’ve been thinking about it for a few months) and I can’t wait to experiment!
What about you? Do you think of different possibilities for scenes or just go with the first thing that comes to mind? Do you find it hard to change a scene that you’ve had planned out for a long time?