Shaking loose the plot

I am currently engaged in writing an outline for Song, and I have realised that almost all of the actual plot is in the second half. So, before I can come up with a plausible outline (and I really want a full outline for the story rather than just chapter summaries this time) I need to come up with some plot.

My usual approach is to stare at a blank screen until some ideas pop into my head. This is supplemented by unstructured thought and subconscious noodling: the unstructured thought is usually me talking to myself, trying to figure out the shape of the world, while the subconscious noodling is thinking about a problem then deliberately stepping away from it to let my subconscious do its thing.

None of those have been productive this time, so I have started making up some index cards to capture elements of the setting in hopes of shaking loose some plot I can use.

I have five categories for index cards: character, relationship, location, object, and plot. Each card gets the initial letter of its category in one corner, then the title is the item name or summary and there is a bulleted list of the qualities of that item. I have a lot of cards recording things as they have been written, but there are a goodly number of plot cards which document possible ideas. It’s been effective so far.

Are there any particular techniques you use to build up your narratives?

Leave a Reply