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.

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  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?

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  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.

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    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.

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  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. 🙂

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    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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