None of these people are writers.
A lot of this comes from what I talked about two weeks ago. The idea is what starts you off, and you need to make sure you put the parts of the idea that made you want to write it into the story itself. But what gets you there? What takes you from a disparate mishmash of scenes and characters and bits of dialogue floating about in your head to an actual story?
Ask a dozen different writers this question, and you'll probably get at least forty-two different answers. What's been working for me lately is something I figured out when I was attempting to plot STARWIND. I call it the sequence of events.
Just like its name, the sequence of events is boring and practical. But it's very effective.
When I was trying to plan STARWIND, I knew mostly what I wanted to happen. (Mostly.) I knew it was a race/scavenger hunt covering half a dozen different worlds. I knew where the crew was going and what they were going to find there. I knew someone would betray them along the way. But I didn't know how it was all going to fit together. My usual plotting method was to just start writing an outline, paragraph by paragraph, figuring it out along the way. It wasn't working - I couldn't even figure out how the story started.
"Story starts here. Crew flies here. They try this, it fails, they try something crazier and more dangerous and it works. Crew flies here. Thing happens. Crew flies here. Crew runs from fight. Crew flies here. Someone gets set on fire. Horrible betrayal ensues. Crew flies here. Crew attacks other crew with giant monster. Crew goes here. Unexpected thing happens. Crew flies to finish line. End."
That is, of course, a very simple version of what I did (yet it's longer than the sequence I typed up last week), but it did what it needed to do. Once I'd figured out the order of things, I could hash out the real plot and fill in all the details that made the story what I wanted it to be. And I never would have gotten that far if I hadn't set aside my usual process and tried something new.
I've applied the sequence of events to everything I've tried to plot since, with a reasonable amount of success. And I have more hope for STARWIND than I have for anything I've written in a long time. Time will tell if this change was exactly what I needed.
Next week: IWSG: People Need Your Stories.