Connect the Dots, La-la-la-la-la!


In preparation for the NaNo I’m outlining among other things for Shade 2. I have to ask myself questions like WHY? HOW COME? WHAT FOR? And so on.

I have a major plot point I want to get to and from their out it’s fairly plotted. But all the before that, I’m trying to forge some kind of sense out of it. After all…

In storytelling, logic is retroactive.
-Robert McKee, Story

But even if it is retroactive, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. And I’m not complaining… mostly… but was just curious to know any techniques any of you have out there when you’re throwing together your story. I know some of you pantsers will say, “Ba! Outline shmoutline. Just write!” And oh, I intend to. But surely even ye pansters have a few ideas about connecting dots in the heat of the moment.


When I feel like something isn’t working, I stop and ask myself what the motivation of the characters is. Heroes, villains and secondaries alike. Sometimes I’ve found it really helps if you know what the villain is after, because then you can balance it with how the hero would react if they knew or when they know, etc.

I’m constantly asking myself: what is to be gained in this scene? And sometimes I write out in margins the arc I want a character to take. Perhaps they start off really good, but then tread toward the dark side which prepares them for the climax of choosing good or evil. Stuff like that.

And sometimes I pretend I’ve killed my darlings and left them in the dumpster across the street. If I CANNOT ABSOLUTELY use the plot line I just came up with, what’s Plan B. Sometimes this will show me Plan A was really the best plan and to stop doubting myself. And sometimes this shows me new pathways to try that turn out better. And more often than not Plan A and B get morphed into Plan C because I like elements from both.


Sometimes plot flows like I’m tuned into some cosmic writing spectrum flowing through the universe and I can hardly keep up with the ideas spilling out of me. And other times I’m forced to take the time to connect some dots. But many a writer’s conference has taught me when you come to those places where you’re struggling, when the dots aren’t so easy to find, that’s often when you’re on the cusp of something fantastic.

I’ve found that to be true in my case many times. So I’m thinking, thinking, and thinking some more. (Is there really any other way to get things done?)

But I still want to know, so if you’ve got ideas, spill them now.

What do you do when you have difficult plot dots to connect? Any techniques you use or have heard of that you recommend?