Linear Writing #ThrowbackThursday

It’s #ThrowbackThursday

It’s #ThrowbackThursday, and I’m reprinting a post on linear writing that originally appeared five years ago. The concept of every story being different is still true. Sometimes, extensive plotting is required. Sometimes, you put your head down and jump in. I’d like to say it gets easier, but I’d be lying.
p.s. The short story mentioned is still on my hard drive. It morphed from a short story to part of a trilogy, all three subplots occurring simultaneously. I still don’t know how I’ll pull that off.

Linear writing doesn’t always mean linear plotting.

Linear writing doesn’t always mean linear plotting. In the debate of pantser vs. plotter, on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being I’ll figure this out later and 10 equaling a hundred page outline), I’d put myself at about an 8. Yes, I’ll admit to creating a spreadsheet or two in my time, but I don’t always know what will happen three chapters from now. I generally have an idea, and I know that P, Q, and R have to happen before Z, but sometimes T, U and V are a bit hazy.

Sometimes, linear writing does not come easy to me.I’m having a haziness problem with the short story I’m working on. You’d think, with a short story, I’d have the opposite problem. With fewer words, scenes and subplots, the way to Z should be clear. Alas, not so much.

Being early solved my plot problem

Last Saturday, I attended a writing retreat. As providence would have it, I misjudged when it started, which left me with an hour of free time. Luckily, I had a fresh legal pad with me. I set out defining the GMC (goal, motivation and conflict)  of my main character, Ray. It didn’t take me too long to realize he lacked two of the three. I played the old game of  “Why does he want it?  Why does he really want it? and Why does he secretly, deep down, maybe-he-doesn’t-know-why want it?” I discovered a lot of his history which probably won’t make it into the story, but it sure as hell gave me his motivation. After that, his conflict was clear. What or who has the power to stop him?

Aliens are my go-to antagonists whether I am linear writing or not.I played this game with his antagonists, the aliens. Yes this is an alien story. I discovered they are my go-to antagonists. After I’d clarified their GMC, I realized they and old Ray have the same antagonist. This brought a third major character (or entity) into the story. There’s all kinds of secret keeping, double dealing and tension that wasn’t in the story before.

This is called the crunch. The juicy element that pulls you in and keeps you in. The bite to the story.

A new way of writing

I know the final scene. The challenge is, I will have to write it in an entirely different way than I normally do, which is linear writing, the comfort of A to Z. In order to preserve the twist, this will be a C, K, R, F kind of story. Non linear. Very Inception-like. Benjamin Button. Look here. No, over there.

I’ve turned to a new page on my legal pad and am working through the GMC of the three main characters and what scenes are crucial for each. I’m sure I’ll have to write them out of sequence then patchwork them together later.

It’s not quite pantsing. It’s a little scary, but it’s the way I wrote my very first story. I woke from a dream with a vivid ending. I didn’t know the characters, I surely didn’t know what GMC was, but I knew I had to get them to Z.

How do you write, and how do you get to Z?



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Arizona Heat #ThrowbackThursday

Arizona Heat, a #ThrowbackThursday short story.

I’m still in Arizona, and the weather conforms to its typical mid-July one-hundred-and-teens range. I thought this Thursday would be a great time to revisit the first of my Twilight short stories, Arizona Heat

Arizona Heat

Arizona Heat. AtoZChallenge sneak peek.

Alan Zimmerman stood on the condo roof in his pajamas in full view of God and anyone passing by. A pre-dawn wisp of wind sifted through his Tasmanian devil hair, solidifying his reputation as the neighborhood lunatic.

Hands on hips, Amy stared at her husband and counted to ten. Thirty-five years of marriage had not tempered his crazy antics.

“What fool thing are you doing now?” she shouted.

Alan grinned at her, the same lopsided smile that had caught her attention at the hospital dance where they’d met.

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Too Many Plots #AuthorToolboxBlogHop

Too Many Plots

What happens when you have too many plots? Paralysis sets in, and your writing freezes. Here’s one way to fix that.

One of the side effects of Covid-19 is the feeling that you’re drifting. One day is like another, and it’s easy to postpone writing until tomorrow. Or next Tuesday. Or not write at all. I thought I’d overcome writing paralysis because I’m retired, and postponing tasks is easy to do.

too many plots


Then came Covid-19. My small world shrank further. No visiting, no outside activities, no club meetings. Why care about writing?

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