Posted by: Trisha Leigh | November 8, 2011

What’s With Today, Today?


The Bright Shiny New Idea. The one that you can’t resist, that makes you go:

You fellow creative types know and love this moment as much as I do. For me, it typically comes in the form of a broad concept and/or a main character. People who are not creative types ask silly questions, like “how did you come up with that?”

To which I reply (in my mind, come on, I have at least minimal social skills):

Plots? Rarely show up for me. I usually know where the story begins and have some sort of vague idea how it ends, but all the crap that goes into the middle? Yeah. Not so much.

Which leads me to my question of the day, which is, how do you devise your plots?

I’m asking because I’m getting ready to start a new draft in December, and I have what I generally consider to be a kick-ass concept with three fun, quirky point-of-view characters, but…they don’t have much to do at the moment besides eat pancakes, think about boys, and go jogging in the park. Which makes for a lovely, but not very interesting life.

If I don’t think of something soon, the non-creative types will be asking me things like this:

Because I will go crazy. Perhaps shave my head.

If it gets really bad, one of my close friends will get brave enough to venture close to me, pick up my hand, and ask:

To which I will get crazy eyes and giggles and maybe drool the remains of Hershey’s Kisses down my chin. When people stop by to donate padding for my walls, they’ll whisper to one another, sure my creative “process” has finally broken me. If you’re one of those people, don’t be afraid if I scream:

Even if your name isn’t Warren.

I’ll be okay. As soon as I come up with a plot for this Shiny New Idea. Help me, fellow authors. Should I take long showers? Baths? Walks?

Do you sit and actively ruminate on major plot points and rising conflict and climaxes? Or is it something that festers in the back of your mind until it explodes pus – lovely, plot laden pus – that you can finally turn into a story?

As a final thought, AJ wants you to know this about reading my blog:




  1. “You did have hair when you went in thre, right?”
    “Yeah. It’s still in the sink if you want to glue it.”

    I’m having some trouble plotting my wip. Baths always help me. SRSLY. Take a notebook and sink into some scented bubbles for a few minutes and the ideas will come a running. 😉

    Good luck!

    • Thanks, Tere! Empire Records is for real amazing. 🙂

      I love baths, especially in the winter when my toes are freezing all the time. I’m hoping it unfreezes some ideas too!

  2. “Well Sinead O’Rebellion, shock me shock me shock me with that deviant behavior” -sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂

    When I have characters that appear before a plot idea I generally try to generate a plot by thinking “what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to this character? What would throw his/her world off it’s axis?” Then, because I’m evil, I do that.

    • You and Erica, being evil to those characters. I’ve got a good starting point with that – the premise revolves around one of the main characters being forced to kill her boyfriend. So that’s something 🙂

  3. LOVE this. LOVE this movie. HA! Rhonda! Love it. I agree.

    “Damn the man. Save the Empire.”

    I actually love plotting, it’s my favorite part. I come up with them by watching documentaries, the long drive to and from work. I ask myself, what’s the worst thing that could happen to this character, and then I do it to more than one of them. Kill someone, have someone betray the other, have someone get kidnapped, have a tornado come in and take away everything they know.

    Good luck!!!

    • Thanks, and thanks for the starting point! Your poor characters.

      I love this movie too 🙂

  4. I love starting with characters. Analyze them.

    What do they really, really want? (Sorry, I can’t get that damn song out of my head.) Why do they want this thing? Keep asking why until you arrive at the most self-centered reason possible.

    What do they don’t know they need?

    What are they most afraid of?

    Then, find ways to make ALL of it happen.

    Some examples: Hero wants to find missing child. Why? If he’s a cop, maybe it will get him a promotion. If he’s a drifter, maybe he just wants the reward money. If he’s the kid’s father, he wants his child back.

    Ask ‘why’ again. The cop wants the promotion because he needs the raise. The drifter wants the rewards so he can get back on the road. The father wants his kid back because he can’t bear the thought of losing him.

    And why again: The cop needs the raise because he owes money to bookies. The drifter wants to get back on the road because he’s falling hard for the heroine. The father can’t bear the thought of losing his son because he turned his back for a second and would have to live with the guilt.

    When you hit the self-centered reason, that’s usually what they’re afraid of and can be twisted to answer the “What do they don’t know they need” question. The cop needs debt-relief. The drifter needs a home.The father needs absolution.

    The answers you come up with will, in turn, drive your plot forward.

  5. The ideas above are actually Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s. I took a workshop she led recently. If you have the opportunity, I recommend it !

    • Thanks, Patty! My mind has been creaking into motion, and I think I’ve at least got the workings of an antagonist going. So that’s something!

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