“Since a novel is a recreation of reality, its theme has to be dramatized, i.e., presented in terms of action….A story in which nothing happens is not a story. A story whose events are haphazard and accidental is either an inept conglomeration or, at best, a chronicle, a memoir, a reportorial recording, not a novel….It is realism that demands a plot structure in a novel.”
-Ayn Rand

Does Rand’s statement work for you?  Often real events explode on to the scene and are defused seconds later.  Writing a story about real events means dramatizing them with a structured conflict wherein the characters work out a theme or moral as a result of their changing attitudes or behaviours.  Contrary to Rand, King states, “I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all of our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible.”  Compromise is needed.  A writer can take a couple of hours to plot the next few chapters of their book – this is creation without finer details – and yes, this can be very exciting.

It takes restraint to invest your creativity on conflict development first, then descriptive narrative and dialogue after.   When you’ve completed a few pages of plot development, then start writing.  You have already given yourself direction, which is flexible, for several chapters.  Let the excitment begin.

Yesterday, I plotted the next four chapters of Carry Me Home, a murder mystery, set in Northern Ontario in 1956, during the mining boom.  I’ve taken the time to give myself direction, even though I was tempted to dig in to stylistic development, but didn’t.  Today, I’m ready.  Very excited to take this first wash and start to layer the next with bolder hues, lines, sunlight and shadows.  Having said this, a writer needs to follow their own m.o..

Here is an excerpt from Carry Me Home:

The new flannelette bed sheets smelled like bleach and Ivory soap, but were soft and warm.  She was thankful for the wool blankets.  It wasn’t the  twelve room family mansion on Eramosa in Guelph, with its high ceilings held up with marble pillars, and its grand entrance with in-laid floors, but it had a particular uniqueness of its own, and it was hers.

She had climbed into bed, scattered with text books and notebooks when a knock came to her door.

“Who is it?”


“Are you alone?”


Jean opened the door and invited her in.  There was no heat in the adjoining walkway; the arctic cold bit like frigid metal.

“Dag didn’t want me to, but I’m here anyway.  He doesn’t mean anything, Jean.  He’s entirely different when he’s sober.  You’ll see, but he does love women – how they feel, how they smell.  Their laughter, their voices.  His first wife was a Swedish model.”

“How do you stand it?”

“I left him, before we came here.  We took this teaching opportunity to give us a new start, but he’s not perfect.”

“Let him know I’m not a flirt.  I don’t want him to stand close to me or put his hands on me.  We’re next door neighbours, that’s all, and he’s not welcomed here.  Let him know that.”

Elise nodded in embarrassment.  “I’ll tell him.  We might not have gotten off on the right foot – the wine and everything.  I had some too, but we’ll be here to support you.”