Shannon Stacey
Plodding through plotting

So, there are my two methods. (The pictures, of course.)

I’m trying very hard to use the plotting board. My version is a scaled-down version due to space limitations, using sticky flags instead of sticky notes. And I just keep moving those puppies around…and around and around and around.

The sketchbook method came from a friend of mine. She said she used a sketchbook, so I thought at this point I’ll try anything. There’s a good chance hers is very neat and flow-charty, but this is what’s been working for me lately.

My new plan is to use the sketchpad for big, brainstorming stuff, and then, from that, list scenes I need to illustrate the stuff on the sketchpad onto sticky flags, then try to organize them on the board.

I think there might be a Mike’s Hard Lemonade in the back of the fridge left there by company two years ago or so. If I drink it with a straw, it might be enough to make me not care that I have two green flags, one pink flag, and one yellow flag in the first chapter. That means something.

I’m almost sure of it

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When loving a dead man is not enough…

I have a workshop tape from the RWA conference in NYC (’03)called “Inside the Editor’s Mind” with Leslie Wainger. The purpose of the workshop was cold-reading synopses and letting the writer know what kind of things run through an editor’s mind while reading them. After beginning the synopsis for a ghost romance, Ms. Wainger offers the following:

“…I still need an emotional conflict. It can’t just be he’s dead and she’s not…”

Is that not a great, and very telling, quote?

The new ms, which for a bizarre reason has the working title of LIDS, has a sort-of vampire hero and very-much-not vampire heroine. This in itself is a conflict, of course. Although, it might be less of a conflict than usual because I’ve blended a lot of different mythologies to come up with a different kind of vampire. (*cue Vic Mackey*) This could be good (Ooooh, he’s unique!) or bad (That’s not how vampires do it! –thud–).

It’s a romance, so you know going in that the vampire guy and the non-vampire girl are going to live happily ever after. Do paranormal lovers even consider her lack of sharp canines a conflict? Not so much, probably.

At this point I know what’s pushing my hero and heroine together, but I have yet to unearth what’s pulling them apart.

Besides the fact that he’s sort-of dead and she’s sort-of not.

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Starring Jane Doe…

I’m several pages into my new manuscript–*wiggle*. I have a basic outline of the first two chapters, and several of the later, bigger scenes sketched out, and I just now realized my heroine doesn’t have a name.

That’s not good.

I hate naming characters. While my guys let me know right away who they are, I usually don’t settle on the heroine’s name until at least 3/4 of the way through. So I slap ‘Sarah’ in there until they tell me their names. (Why Sarah? Who knows.)

The hero of Roadtrip was probably the first guy who had trouble settling on a name. Originally it was Ian, and it stayed Ian until I was almost done. Then he said, “Hey, moron, try Ethan.”

So I did the Find & Replace thing. Of course I did it at midnight, so I forgot to check the ‘match case’ and ‘whole words only’ buttons. Words like librarEthan abounded.

I also have a very small pool of names. I use them over and over and over again. I was working on my Brava novella when I realized that three of the names were already used in my SIM, including the hero’s. One of them weaseled its way into Roadtrip, but I caught it. And a few of the names in that SIM were used in a Silhouette Romance that was rejected a couple of years back. (*whew* I dodged that bullet–I realized even before the rejection came that if they bought it I’d be writing books with NO SEX!)

Time to hit the baby-naming sites.

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The Joy of Pessimism

I’ve taken some pretty hard whacks from my friends this evening for my natural proclivity toward being negative. *rubs sore spot and glares*

It’s genetic! I swear it. You should all meet my family someday–most especially my father’s side. There are glass half-full people and glass half-empty people, right?

Well, in my family, the glass is half-empty until you knock it off the table and it smashes. When you try to pick up the glass, you cut your finger badly enough for stitches. While in the hospital you pick up a lovely bacterial infection. After a horrific allergic reaction to the antiobotic, you’re stuck in a hospital bed with puffy eyes and a yeast infection. Housekeeping moves your bed ten feet to the left so she clean up the coffee you spilled–and no, they won’t give you another one. The candystripers, who are analyzing last night’s episode of American Idol, mistake you for the patient who was supposed to be ten feet to the left and take you up to surgery, where they amputate your right leg. The next morning you wake up and get out of bed to go pee. But your right leg’s gone, so you fall down, hitting your head on the metal bedside stand, knocking over that day’s ration of coffee, and die.

“Why don’t you go watch TV or something. You probably won’t get that part in the school play anyway.” Or “I’ll do it myself. You’re just going to screw it up, Shan.” Or (and this is my favorite) “I don’t know why you bother. Nothing good ever happens to us.”

Really, I’m surprised that I’ve actually submitted things, been rejected and submitted again. *g*

How did I get to be friends with a bunch of optimists, anyway?

I don’t know, but now when I hear “Nothing good ever happens to us,” I say “Speak for yourself” because look who I have in my corner

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Out of the mouths of rotten kids

(Obligatory backstory digression: My boys are well-versed in the “no-touch” body parts, but they also have a very well-developed, expanded sense of personal space because their mother doesn’t think you have to go around groping genitals to be creepy. Any touch that makes them uncomfortable should be reported to their vicious, overly-caffeinated Mama Bear. For lack of anything more original, we call this their “space”.)

The rotten short kid and I ducked into the library to exchange the movies he’s watched 982 times in the last 3 days. The librarian and the children’s librarian had read a historical novel for a book club, and they were interested in my take on it. (I was the children’s librarian there before said rotten short kid was born, so they’re pretty familiar with my reading tastes.) So, she put a copy on the desk for me.

Rotten short kid: My mom won’t like that book. She only reads books with nakie people on them.

Librarian: Reeeeeeeeeaaaaaaally?

Rotten short kid: Well, sometimes they have clothes on, but they’re touching all over each other’s spaces.

*shaking head*

I keep my EC paperbacks up on a shelf, because I walked into the room a few months ago and found the tall kid and my husband both motionless and open-mouthed, transfixed by a Victoria’s Secret commercial. They looked like drooling bookends. Geez, he’s only 9.

But I’ve got Blazes and Temptations and Bravas–oh my!–laying around the house. Or maybe lying around the house. Laying…lying…scattered around the house. (That’s exactly how I do it in my manuscripts, too. Just find another word.)

I swear, I can’t take the rotten short kid anywhere.

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