Using Plot in this case as in planning, considering a story’s narrative structure and its timeline, its arc and its measure of conflicts and resolutions all the way up to the big bang.
One thing that sticks in my head (that I still can find amid the mess) is Josip Novakovich’s incredulous response in his critique of my work to my insistance that the stories had nothing to do with me (aside from normal necessary experience, i.e., the boiling pot is hot) and that I sat down in a rush with an opening line and wrote from there. He finally believed me, I think, when he realized that my stories had no real ending, nor any real conflict to get them there. Characters were changed by inner revelation rather than in response to stimuli, but that makes for either a really tough job to make it intense and interesting, or it falls flat. Mine fell flat.
As I work my way through Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, or recall McCarthy’s Suttree, I realize that even with strong characters, there is so much else going on in their daily lives that these are not simple character studies, and in 100 Years, most likely the star of the show is political upheaval and history.
To me, as a currently stuck writer of story, it seems to tell me that even through the creative flow of words has trickled down to these weblog entries, it would behoove me to start the seemingly less natural act (for me, honest) of sitting down and thinking out plots.
Never did this before, but I suppose it’s time to try it. Not only will it shake me out of my uselessness as a writer sitting on my hands waiting for the morning sun to smile kindly upon me and beam down the words, but it will perhaps give me the needed kick to get back on track.