Plotting Books

“So how do you plot your books, Mike?”

I had taken the liberty of showing some of my Literature students an extract from one of my Piper books. There are some incredibly bright kids in that group so I was pleased that I got a very favourable response.

“I have an idea. If I can keep that idea long enough to write it down, I water it and fertilize its roots. An idea has to take root before it grows. I then think about possible end-destinations for the story. It’s kind of like looking at different horizons from the top of a hill before deciding what direction you will head out on.”

“So what do you do then, do you sketch it out?”

“Usually I just start writing. I try to get ten thousand words out; those are the roots. If I have still got some steam after ten thousand words, I continue.”

“Where do you get your ideas from?”

“Up there, out there, in there. Sometimes they fall from sleep; windfalls.”

“What about the stories that run out of steam?”

“I put those into storage.”

“How do you write an entire book?”

“You push your idea to the top of the hill and, when you are there, you push it down. With any luck it will make its way across the valley with you pushing and coaxing it every now and again.”

I actually read and agreed with what Stephen King wrote about writing:

Sometimes you have to go on when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.

Stephen King On Writing

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