Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thinking in Circles

One of the things I've started to do in developing my stories is try to figure out holes in the premise. To do this, I think in circles around various parts of it. This means I'm trying to come up with reasons why the story can't work the way I want it to work.

Sometimes my circular thinking takes me into different avenues of research. Like psychology for one. I've blogged about Alice and Janey before -- my two psych major friends -- who are now helping with the emotional arc of CALLARION AT NIGHT. In particular, Alice has been tremendous with her opinions in terms of story development and how to manage Moriah's emotional life.

My research has ventured into weapons, clothing, technology, even consumer goods of the Victorian/early 20th century. All of this to fill the circular question "Is this possible?"

Sometimes I'll find my theory isn't possible. That's where the thinking in circles comes in handy. If different routes to the same solution don't hold up under this circular thought process, then I take a different route.

What about you folks? Do you try to poke holes in your stories before you write them? Or do you wait and see what happens?

NOTE: Yes, I know I suffer from plot hole disease in my writing. This is a different kind of logic gap.


L. T. Host said...

It has to possible to be believable, even if possible in your world is impossible in ours. One of the things that I like the most about your writing is the sheer believability of it-- I know you've done hours of research for each and every little thing, and that's really cool.

Joshua McCune said...

I tend to niggle semi-subconsciously about plot/character logic anyway... like today I realized that the houses in my WiP need to be black, not brown or white like I originally had... I'm sure it's one of those details very few would notice, but it's one that would drive me nuts if I overlooked it.

Andrew Rosenberg said...

I like poking holes in other people's work. :)

I think on some level you need to let yourself off the hook. Remember, you're writing fiction so if you want your Victorian characters to text each other, that's perfectly acceptable...as long as it's consistent within your book.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

If a plot hole forms in the middle of the forest, but no one sees it, will your story still fall through?

I think you can drive yourself mad with thinking every angle. Of course, you need to do some due diligence to make sure everything is plausible, but beyond that, I rely on betas to tell me where I fall down on the plausibility-often it is nowhere near where I expected.

Also: since steampunk is definitively in the past, (and by the way Leviathan is awesome - but I'm still not done with it), I thought you might be interested in this: A Historical Thesaurus!


Stephanie Thornton said...

I'm so lazy. I tend to see plot holes and then ignore them, thinking that betas will never find them.


dolorah said...

I write my story, as it comes to me, regardles of the direction. For me, momentum is what it takes.

When its all down and I feel I've got it all out there, I look for holes - things that just don't work for whatever reason.

After that; I hope a beta reader has the nerve to say "dude, that just doesn't make any kind of sense no matter how I look at it."

Then I obsess in circles.

Ok, my head hurts now Matt. Good question, though.


Gary Corby said...

I'm fairly obsessive about getting the logic trails right.

There are always a few points where I fear I might have a problem, but as Donna says, fast pace can get you over the thinnest of ice.

Tahereh said...

sometimes i don't realize there are holes until i've already written a good chunk of the story. then i have to go back and fix it. ugh.

great post. great questions.

thanks for sharing!