Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – Plot or Die!

August 26, 2015

My evil enabler Cooper West and I spend a fair amount of time bouncing plot ideas and bits and pieces of WiPs at each other. She’s the one who talked me out of deleting Empty Nests. In the time we’ve been doing this it has become very clear that we have vastly different approaches in how we attack a project. She has her characters and a base idea then sits down to write. That is something I cannot do.

I’m a plotter. I’ve tried to just sit down and write a story. This is how I’ve ended up with a dozen barely started projects in my WiP folder. If I don’t have at least a beginning, middle, and end my project is dead before my fingers ever hit the keys. I blame years of theater and film training on this.

In my undergrad days I had a wonderful mad Russian for a professor, who despite being devout to Anton Chekhov who wrote four act plays, believed that plays should have three act and that the five acts Shakespeare is usually cut into is just completely mad. Of course this is the man who also said “Shakespeare wrote it wrong” when discussing Hamlet. In grad school my film writing professor was a BIG proponent of the three act structure as well as outlining. She believed that a step outline, giving brief notes on every single scene was necessary before getting anywhere near the actual meat of the writing. All this seems to have sunk in.

Bowerbirds ScrivI don’t think my books necessarily have that nice three act structure by the final draft but they certainly start like that. It’s one of the reasons I love Scrivener writing software. I can take that bullet list, make each bullet an individual file, then write whichever bit has my attention that day without losing track. I learn things about the characters as I go and what looks like a little jump on a bullet list can easily turn into a 5,000 word chapter. For Bowerbirds the original bullet list for chapters 3 and 4 went Date Night, Phone Breakup, Dinner. It took me a little over 13,000 words to get through those three points and made up the first half of act 2.

I do wish I could just sit down and write and have the story flow organically from me, or something like that. I tried it with my YA project last year. 12,000 words in it crashed and burned. I know where I wanted to start from and I know how I wanted it to end but that entire middle bit just didn’t happen. I have an M/F/M story I started when I was nineteen. I have a ton of backstory for each of the characters, a poetic beginning and nothing past about 2,000 words.

So if you hear me say ‘I don’t have any ideas for story XXXXX’ what I’m probably saying is ‘I have a bunch of random disjointed scenes in my head that involve the same characters but I have no clue how they intersect and until I do I’m not going to get anyone’s hopes up’.

By the way. I don’t have any ideas for Nested Hearts: Book Three, but I think Book Two wraps things up in a nice way.

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Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) available through Dreamspinner Press

2 Responses to “Bowerbirds (Nested Hearts: Book Two) by Ada Maria Soto – Plot or Die!”

  1. H.B. says:

    Thanks for sharing your writing style with is. Plotting seems like a sensible thing to me and I would think it helps to keep track of ideas and just useful as a reminder

  2. I think so. There are a surprising number of writers who just sit down and write.

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