As I’m doing a NaNoWriMo Prep series here on the blog, I thought some of you would be interested to see how I go about plotting a book. Each book is different. I’m looking at Powdered Ink, as I think, that will be the one I write for NaNoWriMo. Don’t hold me to it, things could change yet!
Powdered Ink is an idea I’ve been kicking around for a couple of years. All I knew was it followed a Lara Croft style alchemist, with a pet Wil’O’the Wisp (called Wispy), who lived in Prague.
It’s set in the INK world, the same one as Stolen Ink so I’ve done quite a bit of world-building. I have pages of notes for all of that, the magic types, the architecture, some of the history, the politics, and so on. So now, I need to dig into Kaitlyn as a character, and the plot of her book.
I sat down and broke it down into core points. I have Kaitlyn herself and her essential history, what Prague is like, Kaitlyn’s relationships, and the main conflicts in her life and thus, the plot. You can get some idea of what that looks like in my planning book, the details are blurred out because this book will be published next year.
Now I know that Kaitlyn is a treasure-hunting alchemist. She travels around the world collecting artifacts. I know the core conflicts, and her history, so I can start trying to pull together some form of a plot.
So… as she’s a treasure hunter she needs a treasure to, well, hunt. That will be the seers stone. I have notes on what that is, and who else wants it and why. Fabulous, now I have my very core plot! Kaitlyn tracking down the seers stone and the other people who will try and get in her way.
Now I need some subplots.
This is where I refer back to my list of conflicts. They come in various forms, we have the obvious rival treasure hunters, as well as some bits relating back to my world-building, and there are a couple of relationships too. Two of the relationships popped out at me as potential for sub-plots.
One relates directly to the seers stone, the core plot. Fantastic! That can be used to help me refine the actual plot points. That relationship can provide some barriers and such between Kaitlyn and her goal.
The other relates much more closely to Kaitlyn herself and her past – that offers opportunities for world-building and character development. It also widens the scope for obstacles as that person has a goal outside of the seers stone.
Then I have another conflict, one that can span over a number of books. That’s great as this will be a series, so having a thread that continues on through multiple books is wonderful. It’s not big enough that it’ll form a cliffhanger if it isn’t resolved in this book, but there’s enough there to pose a few questions and tick along in the background.
This isn’t looking so bad!
Now I ask myself – is there a romance arc? My immediate thought is no. Kaitlyn is a bisexual woman, she’s confident, and the world is a nice modern one where she doesn’t have to worry about enjoying sex. So there could be a one night stand in there, maybe, but I can’t see a full romance arc that fits right now.
This brings me back around to refining that plot a bit. She’s a treasure hunter, so there needs to be multiple locations. Each location needs to bring something to the table so to speak, it needs to stand apart and offer something. So I think what makes each location interesting and memorable. I have a list of places in my planning book with a sentence next to them saying exactly that, for example Reykjavik has ‘quite common to have dire wolf as a familiar’.
That can offer a conflict within that place, another barrier or perhaps a small subplot to move things forward.
That’s not a bad little framework that I have now. I have my core plot, a couple of subplots, a world, and a character. I think I’m pretty good to go!
If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo keep an eye out for the rest of my NaNo Prep series! I’ll be covering outlining, character development, putting together a story bible, positive reinforcement, and more!