Plotting with Strangers

Dear Reader,

In March, I wrote the first 14 chapters of The Rebel’s Hero. Within this first week of April I’ve discovered a problem: I don’t know why my characters are doing what they are doing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know their motivations better than when I wrote Catching the Rose, so much so that I was able to write the first 14 chapters without a problem.

Still, after reading the first two books of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, and absolutely loving (as always) his well-developed subplots, twists, and surprises, I looked at my manuscript and sighed. I have work to do.

In a fit of creativity during my lunch break at work on Monday I sketched out a table on a scrap sheet of paper with the column headings: Character, Initial Goal, Roadblock, Recovery, 2nd Roadblock, 2nd Recovery, 3rd Roadblock. The rows of this table are the main characters, whose goals, roadblocks, and recoveries complement and clash.

When I came to one of the supporting characters, I realized I had no idea why he had his initial goal in the first place. To get outside my head, I posted a question on Facebook and got so many wonderful answers and theories that I feel totally inspired.

If you missed out on the conversation, that’s ok. I have a new question for you.

Why do YOU think someone would risk their life to free a slave?

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This post is part of the ROW80 bloghop.

7 thoughts on “Plotting with Strangers

  1. I say love. When you've got it bad, rational thinking goes out the window. Or money. Enough money on the table can make some people do anything.


  2. Agreed with Andrew. Although, religion and ideology could also play a part if you'd rather not go the romance route. Depends on the character's moral compass I guess?


  3. There's something in it for him. By saving the slave, he gains… ? Or he could just be a compassionate soul and wants to to save the slave. Or perhaps he see's something of himself in the slave. OR someone once saved him and he's paying it forward.


    1. Ooh, I like the latter ideas… seeing himself in the slave and/or paying it forward. Thanks! All these ideas help me get out of my head and point out my blind spots.


  4. I love your plotting chart! I may start incorporating that method. 🙂

    As for your question: How about if the slave had saved his life, or the life of someone close to him? Or if the character went through a process of discovery of how slaves were treated and it became a humanitarian issue? Perhaps a combination of the two? 🙂

    Or how about if the slave got into trouble for helping him? Or if the slave got into trouble for doing something that he himself would have done in his place – he understands the motivation.

    Or it could simply be an issue of justice, if it's that kind of character. 🙂


    1. Thanks! I'm such a visual person that it drives me nuts when I try to write a traditional outline. Just doesn't work for me.

      Thanks for the ideas! They're all awesome. I think I've got a good handle on why the character is willing to free slaves. Glad to see I'm on the right track! Thanks for commenting.


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