Michille: Plot Devices Ensued

http://obeythemuse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Plot-device.jpgI just returned from my first ever writers’ retreat (thank you very much Justine). I had a very productive weekend. I got my story structure outlined, several scenes written, a couple of problems solved, and suggestions to solve a couple more. Since I was not at my own home, I didn’t feel any obligation to hop up and do laundry, go to the grocery store (although I did got to the grocery once), pick up or drop off a child, etc. I didn’t need to refocus on my writing the way Elizabeth described in her post because I never got too far away from it.

One of the things that seemed to work well was that everyone was at a different place in their story. I am starting a new one, others were in the middle of writing, or editing a draft, or plotting a new one. If I wanted to have some quiet time alone to write a scene, I had it. When my brain was fried, I could take a walk through the quiet streets. And when I stumbled onto a problem and wanted some input, there were writer friends gathered somewhere close by talking about story. And there was even a phone-a-friend plot assist because none of us knew the nuances of a bridge game but a long-distance friend did know.

You don’t have to go on a writers’ retreat to get help, though. Assistance can come from other, surprising areas. When I got home, my daughter was asking about my story. I started explaining it to her and she started asking questions. Some of which I didn’t have answers to. However, in talking it through with her, I did end up with some great discovery points. Why, of course, Sarah is in corporate law – that’s why she knows so much about dummy corporations and fraud.

We didn’t solve all of our problems. I forgot to ask if anyone knew who owns the land under railroad tracks. I got a suggestion to use le petite mort as a substitute for an actual death (Sophocles’ Antigone dies, but my modern Antigone does not) but haven’t figured out what lead up to that scene. More than once, one of us would be discussing our story, describing a scene, and a question would arise. “How is that going to happen?” someone would ask. And the answer was often, “well, plot devices ensue and the hero/heroine does ____.” There were a lot of plot devices ensuing this weekend. In fact, plot devices will ensue to give my heroine her petite mort (maybe), or the plot devices might ensue to get her to the point of ritual death, instead of actual death.

I am back in the real world now and have to divide my time up between all my roles – wife, mother, employee, student, writer (and housekeeper, chef, personal assistant), etc. So plot devices will ensue and I’ll get from here to there, this to that, and words on the page – eventually. Happy plot devising!

5 thoughts on “Michille: Plot Devices Ensued

  1. I, too, particularly loved how plot devices ensued all weekend long. I often think these are what hang me up whenever I get stuck. But then I finished reading “The Grand Sophy” by Georgette Heyer on the way back home, and I saw just how many plot devices she had ensued. There they were, one, two, three. And I thought, hey. I can do that. So then, like you, I found that the weekend had benefits even afterwards. Wasn’t it great?

  2. Sometimes, it’s gotta be vague. The proper plot device hasn’t come up to the conscious brain yet, and everything gets really weird in my brain if I try to pin it down RIGHT NOW — most of the time because I’m busy wrestling with some other aspect of the plot, structure, theme, or character development.

    For some reason, my Girls are obsessed with a historical snowstorm that happened in 1899. Ever since I found out it happened, I was like, “YES! This is an important part of the story.” Why? I have no damn idea. But it led to me setting the story in February. And every time I try to get away from it, it pops up in front of my research again. So bizarre. I have no idea what this plot device is supposed to DO.

    I guess I just have to keep tinkering.

    • A historic snowstorm. You can do a lot with that, I imagine. Snowed in together. Snowed in apart. Unable to get to or from some other very important plot device. I like it.

  3. ‘Plot devices ensue’ was definitely the catch-phrase of the retreat. Here’s hoping the devices continue to ensue for all of us as we get back to the daily grind.

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