plotting for greatest impact; or, The Spiral

The plotting of the Lymond Chronicles is amazing. I wish there were a better word to express my admiration.

After long hours of deliberation, Cat has boiled the amazingness down to this: Dunnett’s many, subtly-planted plotlines don’t just meet/almost meet/collide the way ordinary mortals would write them. They move through the story and then, out of nowhere, they come together and spiral.

A sudden whirlpool to the ship of story. Think that scene near the end of The Little Mermaid.

One clue we have derived from this method is: plot for greatest impact. For example: my heroine saw my hero coldly seduce a married woman, back before they ever met. I was trying to figure out when to reveal what she had seen – and my method was rather wildly instinctive.

Then Cat said, “When would it create the greatest impact?”

Would that be just before he seduces her under false pretences? Just after? Just before she first sees him again in London, knowing who he is? In the presence of the woman she saw him seduce?

It makes so much sense, once you think about it, that this is a good way to go about plotting. But, as you know, I very often haven’t just thought about it.

Comments 2 Responses

  1. Alex

    It’s been great to follow you, as a writer, going through Dunnett’s books. When I read this post I though about a quote I found many moons ago and now had to dig up to share:

    “Sometimes I think of Lymond as the literary version of the Velvet Underground…not many people bought the record, but everyone who did started a band.”

    I took it from this great post:

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