I did something brilliant by accident the other day. This is a pretty common occurrence for me, as is sharing my brilliance with the world in posts like this one.
What can I say? I’m a giver.
Whilst on a recent road trip, driving through the gorgeous monotony of a mountain canyon, I was pondering the parallelism of plot and character arc—as one does—and it struck me that if one were to input character interview questions into a google form, and then link that google form to a google spreadsheet, one could compile vital story-data into a singular, easy-to-navigate access point.
One, I thought to myself, despite your tendency to think in really long sentences, you’re a freakin’ genius.
I then conceived the notion that one could gather data on character motivations, reactions, and actions, as well as the relevant plot points in the story, color-code them, and thus create a literal rainbow of parallelized plot and character arc in spreadsheet form.
My geeky little heart nearly burst, guys. These spreadsheets could take my pre-writing to a level I’d never even conceived of! And that’s actually the point of this adorably egocentric little post of mine. What haven’t you conceived of? What data could you collect? How much deeper can you dig? How much more mindfully can you plot? How well can you get to know your characters, your magic system, your setting? How much more is waiting inside of you?
I’m not asking you because you’re supposed to have the answers to all of those questions right this moment. You’re not. Refer back to the title of this post if you don’t think I’m super serious about that.
Being a writer isn’t about knowing, it’s about writing! Exploring. Seeking. Striving. Trying out your crazy ideas (like rainbow-themed story spreadsheets) and stubbornly moving forward whether they pan out or not.
And one of the biggest thrills in the whole process is how much of a process it is. How there are always new insights and ideas waiting for you. How you can feel stuck at your current level of understanding, and then get slammed so hard by a random epiphany that the pages of your future books tremble from the impact.
Keeping pushing. Keep pondering. Keep plotting.
You never know what new ideas might be waiting for you around the bend.
Kimberly VanderHorst is a YA author who cherishes a love for all things quirky and strange. Claims to fame include running Prism Editing, co-hosting the annual Pitch Slam contest, and serving on the committees for the annual LDStorymakers Conference and The Whitney Awards program. Despite being a city girl with a tendency to cuss a lot, Kimberly is married to an LDS minister and lives in rural northern Canada. There, she helps raise their four lovely daughters while pretending not to be afraid of the neighbour’s chickens.