What if you plotted your own passing?literary style? You’re given three criteria: you begin with two initial scenes and a final scene. Well, That’s a way to start plotting, suggests Elizabeth Sims, author of You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of your Dreams.
Once you got these three starting scenes, jot down heart-clenching moments. What’s a heart-clencher? You go into labor; you lose your job; someone murders your mother. Heart-clenchers can even be successes: you graduate; you win the lottery; you fall in love. Write these heart-clenching moments on cue cards. Sort them. Now, you’ve got a sketch of a plot.
Maybe you want to write fiction or biographies. Regardless, sketch out your final scene first. Then add two starting events. Lastly, list heart clenching moments and string the heart clenchers together.
So, what if you want to write your eulogy, forty years ahead of your final moment? Let’s try plotting the events leading to my eulogy.
First, I’ll take my final moment: I enter the light, free of all pain, wrapped in unconditional love, surrounded by loved ones. (This phenomenon is documented in a 20-year study by Doctor Pim Van Lommel in his book Consciousness Beyond Life.)
I’ll then take two starting scenes: (1) I reenter the workforce after overcoming anxiety and (2) I set extreme goals for my life.
Next, I’ll take heart-clenching moments. Here are some random heart-clenching moments from my prospective book:
- Economic growth plummets. Joblessness skyrockets, leading to civil unrest. I serve as “the resistance’s resistance.” Like in Venezuela, unsustainable Socialist governments begin to topple. Socialist governments no longer have the capital to fund universities due to the collapse of the private sector.
- My boyfriend acts as economic advisor to the Conservative Party. Under their leadership, widespread wealth rises. The economic truth prevails that capitalism creates wealth and socialism creates poverty.
- Universities battle with government over leftist bias. Private sector universities overtake role as top educators. I start teaching at a private sector university. I advocate methods that foster cooperation—win-win situations—rather than victimhood. I repeal policies that have nothing to do with academic core curriculum.
Sadly, I outlined only ten years. Projecting forty years is impossible. So, what can I do? Use Elizabeth Sim’s improv style, with the “yes, and what if?” questions. In other words, tap into the imagination.
For instance, I could use the “yes, and what if?” questions for each heart clenching probe. With Elizabeth Sim’s “yes, and what if?” style, you reject nothing. So, I could take one of the above heart-clenching moments and go wild. For instance, I could say, “Universities battle with government over leftist bias. Yes, and what if leftist universities serve up widespread psychology experiments? Yes, and what if out of curiosity, I volunteer? Yes, and what if the psychologist plugs my brain into a computer enhancer? Yes, and what if the computer enhancer is controlled by a billionaire with no morals? Yes, and what if the computer enhancer reproduces, worming its circuits into the brains of the masses? Yes, and what if I’m powerless to stop its updates?”
Elizabeth Sims gives plotting advice in her book You’ve Got a Book in You: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of your Dreams.
- Start with a map for your story outline, but don’t make it too detailed. Allow for surprises. Stories without surprises are forgettable.
- Try writing the final chapter first, and work backward.
- If you write yourself into a corner, backtrack and go into a new direction.
- One writer starts with only two scenes. The rest he writes ad lib. This allows for spontaneity and surprise.
- Too much planning on your plot can stifle your story.
- Map out things characters do and will be forced to do, according to your plot.
- Use heart-clenching moments such as lust, murder, natural disasters, violence, heroism, battles, and betrayal.
- Take each heart-clenching moment and brainstorm using the “Yes, and what if?” improv method.
- Put your heart-clenching moments on cue cards. Sort them into an order.
- Slip in extra conflict and suffering anywhere you can.
Imagine a world where your eight-year old child performs as a drag queen in Montreal nightclubs. The eight-year old says something like, “If your parents won’t let you be a drag queen, you need new parents” (http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreal-drag-queen-8-makes-a-splash-in-lgbtq-community).
Two years ago, could you have imagined that? Then try imagining your next forty. A paradox? I call it a creative spark!