Plot Party!


This past weekend, I was exposed to a new writing treat! My writer friend, Nisha Sharma, hosted a plot party. Having never been to one, I was definitely curious to see what it had to offer.

So, what is a plot party? Simply put, it’s a party in which you talk about a problem or sticking point in your plot and hash it out with other writers. Here’s, generally, how it goes.

1. You get 5 minutes to explain your plot and the problem you’re having.

2. The group has 10 minutes to throw out any and all possible solutions to the problem. While you, the author, can respond, the idea is to be as open as possible to any and all ideas.

3. You can respond and talk for an additional 5 minutes about what the group has discussed.

4. The current speaker randomly draws the next speaker, and repeat!

I recommend sticking as close as you can to the timelines. As we all know, writers love to talk writing and things can sometimes get carried away. The 9 of us got our time to talk and were done in about 3 hours, with a couple of breaks.

This was a lot of fun. It was fascinating to see where other folks took my plot. For me, what was most amusing was how many times someone would say something and I’d be like, “Oh, that’s already in there.” That’s not to say that I didn’t get good ideas, because I did. I felt like many of the other authors who attended were able to move past the sticking point in their stories. A lot of good ideas were generated.

So, if you’re looking for a good reason to get together with your writing friends, why not throw a plot party? It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing and it can be supremely rewarding for your writing and that of your friends.

Have you thrown a plot party? Or, do you have other group writing activities you partake in? Please share your experiences in the comments section and thanks for stopping by!

When characters take over plot

So, I started writing this paranormal story years ago (Clock Smyth). I’m not big into werewolves or vampires, so I sort of made up my own extrasensory ability. I don’t want to give it away, because that’s not the point of my post. 😉

Anyway, as I developed the story, I sort of ran out of gas. It’s sat idle for a very long time now. But, recently, the gears started grinding again. I like the idea so much, but there’s something about it that’s been bothering me. I kept coming back to this one secondary character that seemed to be dominating the plot, but wasn’t who or what I was really interested in.

It finally dawned on me that this particular character and thread were distracting me from what I really wanted to get to. You see, they were too paranormal for my paranormal story. What I wanted to write was a story about something crazy happening to a single character and how he reacts to a mind-bending new ability. I envisioned multiple episodes where this new ability cause both good things and bad. The possibilities are truly endless. However, what I ended up with was a story about two characters with paranormal abilities who end up chasing one another around to some unknown end. Cyclical, tunnel-visioned, and limiting.

So, I have to start over with the story, but I think it’ll be for the best. I’ll only be “throwing away” a couple thousand words. Been there, done that. Sometimes it’s right to let characters take over the story. It can be fun to see where they take you. But, if it draws you away from the plot you had intended, perhaps that character isn’t meant for that story. In that case, they’re getting in the way of what you’re really after. Maybe they need their own story, or maybe their details can be diluted out of one character and into less-dominant secondary characters. You should never be afraid of staying true to your vision, even if it means going back to the beginning.