Lesson 3: Thinking from A to Z
There is madness behind the method of writing,
and that begins by getting your thoughts in order
The Inspiration Phase is the beginning point that we’ll call A.
Now the challenge in the Production Phase is to get to the end point Z.
Thinking from A to Z
Your goal with your story plot is, for example, to get from A to Z. In other words, let’s imagine there are 26 steps in your story just as there are 26 letters in the alphabet from A to Z. No writer ever has all 26 steps in mind when he or she begins to write, so you will fill in the gaps as your story develops.
Hopefully you have an end in mind, and it certainly makes your plot easier to develop if you do. But sometimes you won’t know where your story is going, so don’t be worried about that end point Z yet.
Just brainstorm the story by thinking of the plot development. At first you might brainstorm, for example, ten points to your story. Let’s say they are:
B, R, E, K, L, Z, X, M, D, T.
Obviously they are out of order, so the first goal is to re-arrange your ideas in order, such as:
B, D, E, K, L, M, R, T, X, Z.
Once you’ve done this (and it may take many tries in order to do it), your next goal is to fill in the missing ideas in your story line. Obviously there are not yet 26 letters in this alphabetical sequence. Initially there will be gaps in your storyline, so you will need to embellish or expand upon your storyline to make it flow evenly.
Your next revision may look like this:
A, B, D, E, G, J, K, L, M, O, R, S, T, X, Z.
As you see, your story will expand as you think of the new twists and turns as your plot develops as well as new characters you may introduce.
Eventually you will have all 26 letters in your A to Z as you develop your characters and plot. This is perhaps the hardest part of the Production Phase–to arrange your ideas in order and then to fill in the gaps between each idea until your storyline flows uninterrupted and with clarity.
Once you have finished writing all 26 steps from A to Z, you will re-read your story many times for clarity. Sometimes the writer is so familiar with the storyline that he or she assumes steps that are missing. Some people call this “taking a leap in logic.” So it is good to find someone to read your manuscript who can find those areas of your story that are confusing or where there are leaps in the storyline.
These people are called editors who can read your story and make constructive suggestions where you need to improve your character development or storyline. Very often they will see the leaps in logic more clearly than you can since you are so familiar with the characters and plot.
Don’t be offended if they tell you something you don’t like because it may be truthful and help your story read much better. Behind every good writer is a good editor. Like a coach, they will help you achieve success with your story. Just like a good athlete or musician practices over and over again, a good writer also practices writing.
Don’t be lazy during the Production Phase. Too many writers love to think about new plot developments and characters, but they lack the discipline to actually sit down and type out the details. Too many want to talk out loud or to think about the story, but without writing down their thoughts, they are soon forgotten.
Be patient with yourself during this Production Phase. Let you mind mull over the flow so you can think of how to fill in the gaps and make the story clear to your readers.
Once you have your story line complete from A to Z, then your goal is to re-write it as you will learn in Lesson 4.