Perspective and Plotting

Bridge with shadows While at a park back in Texas, I’d noticed this little wooden bridge. The dappled afternoon light skewed the perspective, from where I was standing, to make a shadowed path along the boards. In a moment of fancy, I took this picture, imagining it as a hidden path to other lands.

Sometimes writing is like that. You see this little piece in front of you. A scene, a phrase, sometimes nothing more than a whisper, a shadow falling just right. And since you’re curious, you follow the path, even though you can’t see what happens beyond the curve. Once you get beyond the curve, who knows what’s there, but it has to be something good. It wouldn’t look nearly as interesting if it didn’t lead anywhere. When I pants, this is how I write. For me, it leads to stories that are droopy in the middle, as I muddle my way in circles until I find the ending.

Since I’ve learned how to plot (somewhat, anyway), it’s like having a compass. Sure, I might still go in some circles, but I’ve at least got a direction to go in, so I can avoid the paths that are clearly heading off into the morass.

Perspective helps. If Im looking down at the story from above (3rd person), I can see more of it, but I may not notice the details as much. If I’m on the ground level (1st person), sometimes I can’t see the big picture, but I can see what’s around me much clearer, and it’s far more immediate. Sometimes, even when I’m writing in third, I write an excerpt from first, or vice versa, to figure out in more detail what’s going on.

What about you? Do you like to have a map, with the turns all marked out, and street level zoom of key scenes? Or can you follow your gut and the sun and stars to your destination?


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