Once More, With Guidence

February 28, 2016 by KWills

When the whole “Fragments as a blog-novel” idea didn’t work out, I asked myself if this story was ever going to get written. After all, I’ve been trying, and failing, to make it work for years now, without so much as a completed draft to show for my efforts. But in the end it boiled down to one question: Do I want to tell this story?

Yes. Yes, I do. The story matters to me, and to a handful of other people who have been helping me work on it, and it will not end up on the Great Plot-Bunny Scrap-heap.

Decision made, I faced the next question: What now? Having tried and tried to write this story, do I simply keep plodding on, or do I look for some help?

Enter Shaunta Grimes, and The Plotting Workshop. I was lucky enough to find this while it was still free (as it still is, until March 1st 2016 – GO!) so I signed up with a sense of “nothing to lose”. I was a bit put off by the requirement to buy a course-book, but that’s what libraries are for, so I went ahead. The book proved so useful that I did go out and buy my own copy, but the library copy would have seen me through.

To be honest, I didn’t expect much. I’ve seen more than my share of “paint by numbers” writing instruction, but even those usually yield some usable ideas, so I decided to go ahead. And I was in for an extremely pleasant surprise; not only is The Plotting Workshop thorough and instructive, it is also flexible. I had my doubts about fitting my story onto any template, what with the four main characters, multiple locations and complex back-story; but I’ve managed to do just that, thanks to finally understanding how all the pieces fit together.

Like Jane Austen in the last chapter of Mansfield Park, I purposefully refrain from dates at this point. Work on Fragments has re-started in earnest, and won’t be set aside again. It would be nice to say to myself, “This time next year…” or, “Before the end of the summer…” but instead I’ll take some advice from Wonderland:

“Begin at the beginning. Keep going until you reach the end, and then, stop.”

I have begun. I am going on. I will reach the end.

**EDIT** The Plotting Workshop exercises are now available as an eBook: https://gumroad.com/a/155464819

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