Plot Plot Plot: Take a Writer to Lunch
I teach next week at Write By The Lake at University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Plot, plot, plot. At first I thought that it was kind of insane for me to teach plot. I mean, it certainly isn't my strong point. But then the more I thought about it, the more I decided that 1. it would help me be a better writer and 2. it's good to have someone who has had to figure it out teach it rather than someone who does it naturally. Take Walter Jon Williams. He plots. He plots easily. He plots in his sleep. That doesn't mean he thinks about how he plots. Au contraire, I believe that for Walter, plotting is like breathing. And imagine you had to teach someone to breath. I on the other hand, would be unable to teach someone how to write depressing fiction.
This didn't stop me from asking people for tips on plotting. I've got lots. But one of the ones I hope to suggest is that people keep in touch with other people from the class, or find a local group. Find someone (like Walter) who is good at this. Take them and maybe one or two other people to lunch, and do what Walter and Daniel Abraham call a plot break. That is, sit down and you're doing this long distance, by IM, I don't know what you do--except that maybe they'll need you later on down the line.
It wouldn't work for everyone. But hey. It would be a godsend for someone writing, say, a mystery.