Monday, September 10, 2012

Where My Plots Thicken


The first time I came across the term “plot book,” I was reading the afterward, or “author’s note” at the end of a romance. I want to say it was by Jude Devereaux, but I could just be cramming her name into the memory because she was my first “favorite romance author.” My memory does ascribe this to her.

What I know, for a fact, is that I had a literal AHA moment, shouting out with glee to discover another human being was scribbling ideas for stories, novels, poems, or anything else down on the pages of a journal for future use. I’d been convinced something was terribly wrong with me. I’d been keeping journals that didn’t count as “diaries” for years—since grade school, in fact—but never wasted these precious pages on my day to day experiences. Why bother? I’d already had them. No, I would purchase empty journals in bulk at discount stores, keep them handy, and jot down phrases that might be song lyrics, ideas for stories, even character sketches.  I have stacks of them. I never throw them away. Somewhere in England, unless it became kindling, is a leather-bound collection of notes on castles, with diagrams and frantic margin-notes outlining the use and name for different sections: inner and outer bailey, donjon, barbican, and battlements. I left it behind out of dire necessity and still wonder about it like a long lost kitten.

Oh, like you’re not weird. Shut up.

In recent years I have been delighted to find a lot of writers keep plot books and similar. My writing group even has “plot swaps,” where we throw our unused plots into a pot and bargain for them.  If you’ve never done it, you really must.

What’s interesting, at least to me, is that the projects I have been finishing and publishing are out of old plot books.  Whether my current, active journals will yield as much in future years, I can’t say. What I know for a fact? I will never be without one. If nothing else, they provide a place to empty the chatter and fizz in my over-active imagination.

Oooh—that gives me an idea…

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