Interesting timing, this post topic. Last weekend I gathered with a few friends to talk about the plotting of upcoming stories. It was me, another author, and a voracious reader. There was food and adult beverages of course.
I have plotted alone too much. When there is no one to bounce the ideas off of, no one else to poke at the notion with their sticks, then my options are limited. I write on my white board, I pace, and I talk out loud. I can get it done, but the result will not shine as bright.
Interaction with other creative people is intensely satisfying to me. Its like I'm looking through a telescope, trying to see this world that is light years away. The details my eyes percieve are my version of basic. Then someone else takes a peek through that lens. Their eyes might be better or worse, and their life experience is uniquely their own, so their initial assessment is drenched with their version of basic which has little in common with my own.
Suddenly, that world comes into greater focus in my own eyes. The addition of their thoughts is, in part, a validation of my own which gives me confidence to move forward, and the other part is fuel on the idea spark I started with. Before much time has passed, there is a bright flame.
It is important (to me) at this point to keep feeding that fire. To hammer out some details, to consider the tropes, the stereotypes and the current trends, and then to take a hard look at this idea before me and identify what is 'normal' and certain to be anticipated. I follow that up by actively asking myself what emotional appeal can be found in altering the plot or characters to avoid that ground which has already been explored.
You wouldn't dig for gold in an old mine, right? You and I both know that endeavor would most likely be a complete waste of time and effort.
So it is vital to push onward, to stumble past the lines of my comfort zone and stand on new territory. Adding the influence of even a few thoughts, connected only by the words of someone whose life experience differs from mine, is an invaluable part of the process. Like a relay...I know how, when and where to run, but I'm all anticipation and no distance until I'm passed the baton.
Then...because that spark has become a blaze, my passion is burning bright for the project, and the momentum has built and is hurlting me onward...there's no stopping me.