Way back in a night in 2006, when I was in Australia on business, if you can call baby-sitting a group of Japanese high school students business, I sat down at my computer and started hammering out my novel.
It had been banging around in my head for months now,and I was getting irritated with it, so I had to release it, but after typing for an hour, I really had nothing more than a first scene and a glimpse of where I wanted to go. That meant I needed to find another 80,000 words somewhere.
A few months passed. I returned to Japan. I knew what I had–basically a classic story of two foes, with a bit of a romance also. I originally imagined it as a King Arthur/ Lancelot/ Guinevere type love triangle set in a setting that resembled old Rome. Most of this would later change as the writing progressed, but before that happened, I hit the great void–writer’s blank.
I knew where I wanted to end, but I did not know how to get there. I spun out a few side plots: the villian, the heroine, the brother, the best friend, and so on. The story seemed to slow, and it meandered for awhile, but finally, nothing went forward.
Sometime in 2007, I went back to my first scene. Instead of looking years down the road, literally, to the end, I decided to plan to the next dramatic peak.
I decided what this peak would be. Then, over the next few months, I wrote the main character to that peak. I fleshed that out.
Then decided his next peak, and did the same thing. I went through most of the first part of the story like this.
Now, I could see where I was going. It was like turning on a few streetlights on a dark road. You could see the curves ahead in the darkness. I carefully began again, taking the other major characters along with my main character, knitting the story up to the first plot point that sat in my figurative string of yarn like a knot.
So, I think that I learned that when I write, I should get the main plot line down. From this, all else will grow outward.
I suppose it is like a road. Once the road is laid, the avenues and lanes that branch off it can be put in place, but they all depend on that one main road.