I am currently chasing an elusive plot. Stalking it through the undergrowth, if you will.
I have lots of elements. I have two very nasty people in league with each other. One is dead. One is alive and continually thinking up worse stuff to do (although I haven't quite figured out what that is yet). I have vicious rumours circulating about the dead one. And I have two people who want to know what's really going on.
There is a plot in there. I'm just having some trouble finding it.
I am a seat-of-pants writer. I ponder and ponder and then, when I have a clear enough picture of where I want to go, I dive in and hope for the best. This works for me most of the time, but when it doesn't, this happens.
And it's very hard to be productive in a situation like this. When I'm dreading a difficult scene, I just have to bite the bullet and write it. But it's hard to bite the bullet and think of a plot.
'I'll just do the washing up,' one decides. 'And then I will sit down and have a good hard think.'
You do the washing up, then you go to the couch and sit down for your good think. You may even assume the Thinker pose, just to get your mind in the right place. And then you say to yourself 'Right.'
'Here we go.'
'Time to think.'
'OK. What have I got to work with? Character A, dead to begin with. Character B, baddie. Character C, protagonist. Character D, protagonist's love interest.'
'They all ought to do something.'
long pause. Make tea.
'Something compelling. Something really interesting. Is that mould on that bread? I just bought it yesterday. I'm never shopping there again.'
'Actually, I should clean out the kitchen. There's a few things in the fridge past their best.'
See? This thinking lark is bloody hard.
The only realistic way to approach it is to try to sneak up on your brain. Distract it with books, chocolate, episodes of 30 Rock and Glee, and whenever it sighs and says 'Hmmm, that plot problem. . .' you instantly shush every other thought so you can tune into that one. Then it gets self-conscious and goes quiet, so you sigh and go back to the telly.
This has been going on for a while. It has come to a head today, though, because I have my monthly writers' group tonight. The writers' group I'm in is about meeting up and writing together for motivation, rather than for critique, so I am spared the shame of showing up with no pages.
However. We do actually write together when we meet up, which is almost worse, because all I can do at this point is - well, think. Which, to a casual observer, looks astoundingly like slacking off.
I'll end on a practical note, though. I am planning to spend tonight's Writers' Thingie (the name has kind of stuck. . .) free-writing about my characters. This has worked for me before - pen on paper, brain on autopilot, and hope for the best. The downside is that you end up with sentences like this:
He's all about darkness, really, isn't he, I mean when you actually stop and think about it, that's what he is. So I should use that. Maybe there could be some kind of scene in a graveyard although I'm not sure where that would fit in.
In spite of that, though, if I can force myself to sift through the crap, sometimes free-writing can turn up some things that were hovering just below the surface of the mind and needed to be coaxed out.
Wish me luck :)