After two writing conferences, a whole bunch of books on plot and several meetings with learned people I was confused. I tried to figure out what all that information meant for my book. I got lost. I got found. I started again over and over. As the daughter of a man known for great beginnings I wanted to make one that made you turn the page, buy the book, take it out from the library and just sit somewhere and read!
But I got lost. I couldn’t decide where to begin my story.
People talk about inciting incident and I know I have! I studied it in writing classes and acting classes and taught it to my students. Somehow I just couldn’t get clear.
I kept hearing agents and editors saying things like, “no prologues,” and “no dream sequences.”
So how do I deal with a trauma in a character’s life if I don’t want to include the trauma as it feels like backstory?
Ignore the rules.
I don’t think I have a choice. My character has a certain amount of PTSD and it has to show up somewhere. Kids are resilient so she won’t dwell, but it has to show up somewhere.
Recently I suggested to you to make a list of every possible scene that could happen in your book.
Today I will make a different suggestion.
I did this exercise recently after all that advice made me frustrated in deciding how to begin my book. People, teachers, agents and others make suggestions and sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not.
One must stay true to the story and characters.
I began asking questions of myself, and doubting myself. “Do I include the accident—is it the inciting incident or not? Do I have three of those? Can I have 3 of those?”
Because in my book A leads to B which leads to C.
My brother suggested writing a treatment, which includes a synopsis which is basically “this happens, then this happens, and so on.” The rest of the treatment is a description of the characters and their backstory and their importance to this story.
Then I wrote it all out on index cards.
You could use index cards or post its or an online method. For me old fashioned writing it out is what works.
Each card is a necessary piece of the story, “Girl arrives at house” “girl meets great uncle” Girl meets boy” and so on. I put the cards up on my white board. And lo and behold. I have a book with an arc and a story that is compelling. The structure is there and it is further along than I thought! I wish I could show you, but that would spoil the surprise of my book.