Nano2018 – when a Pantster just has to Plot

In a previous post I waxed lyrical about how I’d worked out what made Bountiful so deadly. Flushed with euphoria, I thought I was home and hosed, and that the writing would now flow. Not so much…

Since then, I’ve had to acknowledge that the core of my Nano story this year is actually three-fold:

  1. What made Bountiful so deadly?
  2. How did Beaumont cover it up?
  3. How did James Milgrove, aka the Burning Man, discover the Beaumont cover up?

I thought I had the answer to no. 2, but I soon realised that if I went with that particular solution, no. 3 would be almost impossible to achieve. I say ‘almost’ because I could have fudged the solution. ‘Oh  look, I just found a memo that proves Beaumont were culpable. How lucky is that?’

Just writing those two sentences raises the hackles on the back of my neck because it’s such a cheap trick, and so patently unrealistic. I mean really, with billions of dollars at stake, readers are supposed to believe that Beaumont cares enough to send an assassin to Innerscape, but not enough to burn the evidence?

Fortuitous events do happen, sometimes. Most of the time, however, big events are the result of a cascade of tiny, seemingly unrelated events, and the decisions taken over each one.  And that’s where plotting becomes a necessity.

Although I call myself a pantster, the truth is that I’m a hybrid who does a lot of research and a lot of plotting to make the base mechanics of the story work. In the case of P7698, that core revolves around the pseudo-science of Bountiful. In the Innerscape trilogy, the core centred on the constraints of the digital world itself. In Vokhtah, it was the whole world vs the biology, culture and history of the Vokh and iVokh.

Science fiction may demand more, in terms of these core mechanics, than some other genres, but I know that the best fantasy results from the same, fastidious attention to detail. Characters have to react to believable events and circumstances or their actions will come across as ‘fake’, and none of us want that. So here I am, a little bit stuck on points 2. and 3. 😦

I gave up the idea of winning Nano almost a week ago, and I can live with that; the element of competition was just a little added extra to keep me going. But getting this stuck is seriously depressing as I know I’m going to have writer’s block until I find solutions that feel real.

Anyone else having this problem?


About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

22 responses to “Nano2018 – when a Pantster just has to Plot

  • Elizabeth Drake

    I think you need to give yourself time. Let the answers to those questions percolate. You may be surprised what comes of it.

    I thought my villain was doing what he was doing for one reason. He corrected me 🙂


  • anne54

    Even your non-writer friends are interested!
    I am a great believer in giving subconscious time to a problem, allowing the ideas to swirl around. Some people have a process where they deliberately ask themselves a question, leave the question and do something completely different. Then after a while they ask themselves “Okay, what have you got for me?”. Often the answer is there. I bet that now, after putting your questions out, by asking the question, you have an answer, or the glimmer of one. ~hugs~


  • D. Wallace Peach

    Oh yes, oh yes. I started Nano without a complete plot and without all those kinks and details worked out. Thank goodness that November is almost over because I’m seriously racing toward some potholes and roadblocks that are going to break the axle. I need to backtrack and lay the thing out before I can move forward. So, yes, I can relate! I think Nano is awesome when a book is ready for a push; otherwise, it can lead to a car wreck and visit to the body shop for some repairs. I’m certain you’ll figure it out, Andrea. Happy Writing.


    • acflory

      lmao – I like that analogy of a car wreck! This nano has been so hard, but I stopped caring when I realised that I was getting incredibly important information and building materials for the book this will become. It may take another year, but I’m on my way. 🙂
      I won’t ask for any spoilers as I know nano is a start, not an ending, but…whenever you’re done and need beta readers….-rolls eyes and looks angelic-

      Liked by 1 person

      • D. Wallace Peach

        Oooh! I’m doing a little happy dance, Andrea. I’m venturing into uncharted territory with this book – more science and technology than I’m used to and way beyond my knowledge base. I would LOVE feedback, even if it’s just a critique related to those sections. I’m probably 7 months away from having anything ready. And I’m happy to do the same for you. I’ll be caught up on the series by then too. 🙂


  • Widdershins

    Oh-oh, the dreaded ‘hump’ … looks like you’ve got a direction going already though. Good luck. 😀


  • marianallen

    I love it when talking story cracks the code. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      I’ve never really had anyone to bounce ideas off in the real world so I’d soldier on until the brick wall became too hard, then I’d stop for months at a time. Then, when I started blogging I felt that online friends would be bored stiff with ‘writing talk’ too so I’d rarely talk about the nitty gritty stuff. -blush- I’m really slow on the uptake sometimes. Feels wonderful to finally wake up and realise I have heaps of writer friends online who aren’t bored with writing stuff.
      Yeah…slow, very slow. 🙂


  • cagedunn

    I discovered that doing two projects back to back is impossible – a break between is a necessity. So, I’m all NaNo-d out – but still consider the effort a success – new novel completed.

    The problem you have needs a step-ladder.
    For Number 3 – How did Milgrove discover the cover-up needs a few steps where Beaumont does the cover-up, and from that, who does he owe or need to keep onside to ensure they don’t undermine him once he gets what he wants? This is where you will find gaps in the ability to keep things under wraps – there will be at least one hint, and possibly three, that lead him to question how things look and feel on the outside, to where those misty assumptions came from …

    That’s number 3 – For number 2 – the question isn’t really how, but why? Why would he keep incriminating evidence? What was his purpose in doing what he did, who helped him, and how are they a threat to his end goal? No one manages to do stuff without any input from others, and this is always a weak point, especially if there are emotional attachments, or other things that mean the baddy can’t kill off his assistants/co-conspirators.

    I call it a step-ladder, or snakes and ladders, because someone is able to move up to each step, but a single misstep means a greater loss than just the last point of access.

    The bigger the goal, the more dangerous and wide-spaced the steps to achieve it, and the more help it takes (or threats/bribes) to get there.

    Is that at all useful?

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      -grin- very useful, actually. Beaumont is actually a company rather than a single person so your comments about the why, and who knows about it, are spot on. I sort of know which point in the manufacturing process the cover up will have to be but I couldn’t see how ‘they’ would get away with it. Suddenly, I see that a lot of money must have changed hands which means that someone outside Beaumont might decide to keep some incriminating evidence as ‘insurance’.
      lol – those pesky human motives get you every time. 😀 😀
      Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  • davidprosser

    Much sympathy. I know you’ll find the answers through research though, it’s what you do best.

    Liked by 1 person

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