Beautiful Books: Plotting UTC

Instead of the usual Beautiful People meme, this month Cait and Sky decided that, because next month is NaNo, they’d focus on Beautiful Books – and the three key elements of plotting (this month), writing, and *shudder* editing. Whilst I’m not doing NaNo, this is still a little of an opportunity for me to talk about my WIP.

What came first: characters or plot idea? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Plantser, for sure 😉 For me, it’s always plot ideas that come first. I have so many blurb/query ideas that never make the face of day because I don’t have the time to fish out characters and flesh the plot-bones.

Do you have a title and/or a “back-cover-blurb”?

Yes, the story is Under the Carrington. I started shaping its conflicts from a query I came up with for it, which has some of the elements of what one might call a back-cover blurb – the characters, the conflict, the plotsters…

What wordcount are you aiming for when your novel is finished?

I was originally going for 55 – 60K, but it depends what the overall stretch of the book looks like in the end, and what I feel like doing with it once it’s in proper shape.

Sum up your novel in 3 sentences.

(Here’s one I made earlier!)

18-year-old Jess would find it much easier to stay away from her cute uni corridor rep Laurie if her father’s antiques shop didn’t rely on Laurie’s parents’ money for its much-needed boost. At first he’s as cold as the ancient stone walls of Wellington College, but the colder the weather gets, the warmer Laurie’s affection for the eccentric young archaeologist becomes. Their attraction comes with a price, though: Laurie’s occupation as a Wellington committee member.

Sum up your characters in one word each.

Jess: self-doubting

Laurie: reserved

Ceriwyn: fun-loving

Meg: energetic

Anais: unassuming

Gus: logical

Nicola: old-soul

Russell: dreamer

And many more… (I hope you liked my crazy formatting to change things up a bit!) I love how my two main, point-of-view characters are pretty serious – I mean, Jess has a sense of humour and she has a bold external personality, but a lot of her scenes/conflicts end with her being very contemplative – but their respective Supporting Characters, Meg and Ceriwyn, are typically extroverted and not afraid to say what they mean straight off. It’s a fun mix of a cast.

Which character are you most excited to write? Tell us about them!

I didn’t originally intend to write in dual POV, but then one chapter started unfolding from Laurie’s point-of-view, and I find I can write him better. I just get his mindset better than I get Jess’ and the way some of his syntax is naturally upper-class, due to his nurture.

Laurie’s the son of a successful CEO and an actuary. To say his home is a mansion would be an exaggeration – since it’s barely a manor. It’s big enough, though, considering that Jess lives above a shop in the city. His family – or, rather, his mother – has enough money for Laurie to have become entwined in that money-is-priority-dependent mindset, despite trying to start earning his own. However, money comes with a price, and Laurie’s trust levels are lower than socially acceptable, one would say. Oh, and he’s a 21-year-old second-year Historian. I should say that, considering that the plot surrounds a uni!

What about your villain? Who is s/he/y, and what is their goal?

I have no strict antagonist (and shame on you for assuming that every genre relies on a physical villain for conflict). Of all the characters, who are all malicious at certain points of the story anyway, Laurie is probably the most antagonistic, but not in a verbal way, just in a conflict and varying-opinions way. Russell also gets in the way of Jess’ main goal, though that’s more her own fault, and neither of them intentionally have cruel acts. They’re all being contagonistic.

What is your protagonist’s goal? And what stands in the way?

Jess’ goal is, publically, to get through her first year of uni and learn enough to help her father run his antiques shop. Her private goal is to gain the friendship and admiration of Laurie, as well as those of the other people she has met and will meet. But don’t we all? It’s not a goal that stands out, but that’s what makes it so effective – Jess just wants to get along.

Life. That stands in her way. People’s stubbornness or the simple fact of their disagreeing opinions. And, you know, the fact that Laurie’s not willing to give up his job just for love of her. That sucks b***s, as Jess would say.

What inciting incident begins your protagonist’s journey?

Starting uni. It’s pretty simple.

Where is your novel set?

Present day: some university… I have no idea what or how I want to name the campus, so I’ve left it as question marks in my draft so far. It being a collegiate-campus hybrid uni (yes, these do exist!), a lot of Jess’ ‘downtime’ and personal interaction happens at her college, Wellington. Some jazz-club scenes take place in the main city, within walking distance of the campus; one scene (so far) is set in a cavern. Haven’t decided if this is going to be a real traversable UK cavern or not yet.

What are three big scenes in your novel that change the game completely?

The Costume Scene, where the tension between them erupts into a kiss that neither will later acknowledge.

The Rain Scene when Jess realises she can be friends with Laurie without being romantic, and Laurie realises that he might not be able to be friends with Jess without being romantic. It’s past the 75% mark and they’ve known each other for a good five months or so, but there’s that singular moment of clarity that throws a spanner in everyone’s works.

The Yelling Scene, where Jess does all of the hating on Laurie for being so uncompassionate in the midst of his parents’ divorce and of their own, personal situation. After that, she thinks she cannot stay around Laurie or in their college (and possibly the university) without things becoming painfully awkward. It’s a case of:

(I love that gif so so much)

What is the most dynamic relationship your character has? Who else do they come in contact with or become close to during the story?

Uh, Laurie. #romancestory xD

Apart from him, Jess really connects with a fellow Art Society member, asexual Nicola, who (hopefully) will provide a sense of balance between all of the pressures of the romances in the novel (yes, plural). They don’t become particularly close in the story, but Jess still values her help and opinions.

The dual POV means that I also have a set of friends whom Laurie knows, but we currently see a lot less of them.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Hopefully…she’ll have a better worldview by the end of it; she’ll understand that friendship is better than love being the be-and-and-end-all. Laurie has the most character development as he goes through his own emotional rollercoaster, topped off with the yoyo ride that is his repressed feelings towards his absentee mother (the poor boy had a nanny, for goodness’ sake!). By the end of the novel, he’ll be looking at his childhood and world-relationships with a greater eye.

Do you have an ending in mind, or do you plan to see what happens?

Oh, I have an ending in mind. I can see it fairly clearly, movie scene.

What are your hopes and dreams for your book? What impressions are you hoping this novel will leave on your readers and yourself?

I don’t know what my dreams are for this book. For it to be light, but also not superficial. Ultimately, it would be nice to publish it, but this one’s not one I have with big publishers in mind. In a way, the plot doesn’t matter enough for me yet, but I might get as attached to my characters as with OJAP, WTCB and Horology. I’d love to have a trilogy set in the same uni – for the sake that I have other ideas to be written.

I’m hoping my readers will be able to relate to my characters, even if not Jess or Laurie. Because it’s set in uni, this gave me the chance to write more underrepresented people, so I hope that there’s a greater scope for NA connection. Uni isn’t like starting school, but it has some of those familiar ‘feels’. Obviously, I want my readers to end up rooting for the characters, even if they don’t root for themselves all the time.

Thanks for reading! What are you currently plotting or writing? And, arguably the more important question, does writing a contemporary warrant the inconsistent theme in my use of gifs?? xD

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5 thoughts on “Beautiful Books: Plotting UTC

    • Oh, I’m always working on something new in my head 😉
      All of the gif love! I thought you’d like the Adventure Time in there 😀
      Mmm, the good old days… It’s part 1 of the series finale tomorrow. I won’t be able to watch it until Monday, but I’m already comparing it in my head to Ten finales, which always had punch and sensitivity at the same time. I was never impressed by Eleven finales, especially because of that break in the middle of one of the series.

      • I recently re-watched Doomsday and even though it’s likely my 5th time it’s still more powerful than any of Eleven’s. I’m sure more than Twelve’s as well.

  1. Pingback: Beautiful Books: Writing UTC | Miss Alexandrina

  2. Pingback: Beautiful Books: Let’s Talk Editing H | Miss Alexandrina

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