No, neither the boom nor the break are about bad things happening, not really. Neither is this about everything that happened last Tuesday; I'll cover that in next month's IWSG. This is yet another entry about a part of the creative process that I've finally figured out well enough to make it work for me.
If you're treating my blog as a drinking game, and you're not taking a drink for "Mason figures out something about the creative process" entries, you're doing it wrong.
I think we're all familiar with the concept of the shiny new idea. When I start getting ideas for a new project, I see a lot of the big things and important events that happen in the story like I'm watching a movie trailer, flashes of awesome that are going to happen in what will surely be the greatest thing I've ever written. A ship flies through an endless mass of raw magic. A mountain picks a fight with a golem the size of a city. A young deity's hair changes into something that is distinctly not hair. It's all one big boom of ideas, bits and pieces that I somehow know must happen in this story-to-be. Sometimes they're more about new characters suddenly being born in my head, or about the way a world works, but there's always this knowledge that there's a story in there somewhere and I'm only seeing the beginning of it.
It's easy to get really, really excited about these bursts of idea. What's not always easy is figuring out the rest of the story. This is where the break part comes in, as it's far too common that I scribble down all of the new ideas and can't figure out how they're supposed to work.
And so, I get frustrated. I look at all the cool things that are supposed to happen and see no way to connect them, or worse, I start thinking that they're not how the story is supposed to go. This is what leads to my endless series of plot revisions and restarts, to fifty-page planning documents that still manage to not have a complete story anywhere in them.
Somewhere along the way, I forget that those awesome moments are the basis of the story, and I need to build everything around them. I need to keep them in the plot, to make sure the parts that got me wanting to work on the story in the first place are still there when I finally do start writing the book. I need to make it so every other thing that happens, every part of the world, every facet of the characters' past and present, works toward those moments. Whether they're action set pieces or crucial character pieces or mind-blowing lore pieces, everything should build to include that story's first big boom.
Like everything else about the creative process, this seems like something I should have figured out long ago. Maybe I did, but just couldn't put it into words. But it's easy to forget. It's easy to lose sight of the awesome when you're trying to figure out the everything else. I've seen writers talk about just putting one word down after another, even when it's not thrilling or exciting. It seems that applies to plotting as well. There are long sequences of just getting it done.
A story can't be just the movie trailer, at least not the sort of stuff I want to write. The story has to be the entire movie and then some.