I’m in the throes of writing my fourth book. It’s fiction but based on a trip I took to the Philippines way back in 1989 when I was a junior officer in the US Air Force.
I have a bunch of stories I want to share but here’s the rub … how do I connect them? How do I take a bunch of – what I consider – interesting stories and connect them into a larger story; a story that flows; a story that’s captivating, a story that has a beginning, middle and end?
Well, that’s where plot comes in. Just reach into my handy bag of plots and pull one out … voila! – I got a story.
Only one problem, I don’t have a bag of plots. But, I could easily get one. I could go on a grand hunt for canned plots and then pick out a nice juicy one. But I don’t want to do that.
I just re-read Stephen King’s book On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft and he gives masterful advise on plot. It’s the best news I’ve heard since they announced the “New Kids on the Block” were going on a reunion tour. It’s pure genius. Maybe that’s why Mr. King is the master story teller.
Disclaimer: I’ve never read a Stephen King novel all the way through. But, I’ve read enough to know he knows how to paint awesome mind pictures. And, I’ve seen the movie Shawshank Redemption – what a compelling and creative story! So, when Stephen King talks about writing, I listen.
Anyway, Stephen’s advice on plot is so simple, even I can understand it – even I can do it. Here’s how he solved my plot problem. When it comes to plot, Stephen King says …
FORGET IT – DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT – DON’T HAVE ONE
Now those aren’t quotes but it’s what he says. Don’t believe me? Get his book “On Writing” and open up to Chapter 5 and start reading. If you come up with anything different from what I’ve written above, then I’ll eat a unicorn … I mean – my hat.
Stephen goes on to say, ” … stories … pretty much make themselves.” He argues that if you rely too much on plot your story is “apt to feel artificial and labored.”
I can follow this advice. Plot? What plot?
Now, my challenge is to come up with a compelling story. But of course Stephen has a solution for that as well, ” … stories … pretty much make themselves.” All I have to do is write and – according to Stephen – the story will appear. No canned plot, just a nice story that’s buried deep in the ground and all I have to do – as the writer – is expose it. He likens a writer to an archaeologist – just keep digging and the story will appear.
So, I’m off to grab my “shovel” and start looking for buried treasure – uncover a story that’s waiting to be discovered, waiting to come out and be shared with the world. My job is not to create a canned plot, but to simply dig for the buried story that’s already there.
Want to read bits of my book as I write it? As I go looking and digging for my story, I’ll be sharing some of my writing. I suppose it’s a look into the creation of a book. So, if you’d like to be updated from time to time with some of my writing snippets, I’ll add you to my mailing list. Click here to add your email.