Thursday, May 5, 2011

Using the Subconscious Mind for Plot.

I have to admit, I am a little like my main character Ian, at least when it comes to writing. Of course, I’m not psychic, although I think I have good intuition most of the time. One of my favorite things to do is to use my sub-conscious mind either to come up with creative ideas or solve plot problems. The way I do this is to think of my story every night while I’m in bed about to fall asleep. If I have a plot problem, I will fall asleep trying to work it out. Many times I wake up with the answer. Sometimes even in the middle of the night I will wake up with an idea. If I go back to sleep too fast there is the problem of forgetting, so I keep pen and paper near the bed.

Oddly, it can be harder for me to fall asleep if I don’t have an interesting story going. My mind will just bounce around either bored or preoccupied with a problem.  

There have been other times when even my sub-conscious can’t solve the plot problem. In these cases, I push myself until I get it worked out. Sometimes I have to backtrack to all the previous scenes and ask questions. Have I set up enough conflict? Is everything working?  Where is the character motivation coming from?

One of the biggest plot problems that used to hold me up was the temptation to let other characters take over the story. I wanted to explore those other characters because I liked them so much, but it just didn’t work. For me, my stories have to stay on track with one main character dominating most of the scenes.  

I am also working on a sequel to Vallar, but the thing is I have never written a sequel. I find it challenging for many reasons. Trying this myself has made me realize why many times the sequel is not as good as the original (especially in the movies). One of the difficulties is to not create the same thing in a different form. On the other hand, I like a challenge, so I’m determined to finish it.

So tonight all my writing friends, think about your story and see what happens in the morning. Or maybe in the middle of the night. Keep that notepad handy.

10 comments:

Laurie Starkey said...

First of all - love the picture - fantastic. In reference to your statement about diving into minor characters and letting them take over the story - causing to possibly move along a path you never desired the story to go - I have done that in my first novel. I had to take a break from it (4-5 months) and hope to get back to it with less emotional attachment, so that I can pull out my scalpel and start shaving off those parts that just really don't belong - the deleted scenes.

Congrat's to you on starting your next novel - I plan to read through your previous blogs soon to start learning from some of the roads you've traveled to get Vallar ready and self-published. Congrats on that too.

Rogue Mutt said...

Writing is usually the farthest thing from my mind when I'm in bed...

Cinders said...

@Laurie, it's great to hear from you. If you ever consider it, send me an email. I have some tips I haven't posted yet.

Sylvia Ney said...

Great post! I’m so glad I found you through the A to Z challenge. I look forward to visiting again.

Michael Offutt said...

I go to sleep pretty easy. Best of luck on the sequel to Vallar.

Cinders said...

Welcome to the Perch Sylvia.

I think men in general fall asleep much easier than women. They are so lucky that way.

Susan Fields said...

I do that same thing - thinking about a plot problem before I go to bed. I also solve a lot of plot problems when I'm taking my dog for a walk. I think just doing something other than staring at the computer screen helps jump start my brain.

Laurie Starkey said...

Cindy - Thanks! Nice to be back among the living - tax season almost killed me this year! I will shoot you a note when I get ready to publish my books - yours looks great - I need to go buy a copy of it! I'll do that soon!! I love your review site too - too cool!!

I always get my answers to plot problems when I am driving and usually end up almost killing myself trying to write and drive - I finally found the voicenotes program on my phone and just press go and start dumping my brain into it as I drive - much safer for me and you!!

Cinders said...

Lauri, I'm excited to have you read my book. Sometimes I drive on auto-pilot while thinking of my story. Somehow I've never caused an accident, although I have passed a street where I needed to turn.

Susan, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one.

Rogue Mutt said...

Woo woo.