My first draft of Uncharted took far more work than most of my first drafts. It’s been nearly two years since I had my initial idea. The story now is nothing like the very first scribblings I made for the project.
What I’m here to talk about is plot. I’m usually terrible at plot. I mean, once I get started, it all comes together nicely, but as far as planning goes… not so much. I usually start with a character rather than a story. This time, it was Luc. I knew two things about him: he was trapped in a forest and I needed to free him. That made me think about who had trapped him, why and how he would be freed. Kari came to his rescue.
But why Kari? Why wouldn’t someone else have found him before she got there?
That made me think of the semi-deserted island. Being uncharted, few people would have passed through Luc’s forest, save his captors – and why would they want to free him? In order to get to the uncharted island, Kari needed to be on a boat going somewhere else and she needed to become shipwrecked. No one goes on a boat trip alone and so Sam and Jessie joined her.
Kari was washed overboard and the boat was wrecked in the storm. Separated from her friends and with no way off the island, Kari can do nothing but try to stay alive. Survival is easy enough if you have access to food and water but it doesn’t make for a very exciting read. To liven things up, the island became filled with threats – the men who had captured Luc for starters and wild animals for another. The more I searched for a way to reunite Kari with Sam and Jess, the more dangerous the island became. Meeting Luc helped to keep Kari alive long enough for her to get in touch with Sam, but that’s when the real mission began: finding Jessie, recently kidnapped by the island inhabitants.
And Luc… the closer Kari comes to finding out why Jess had been taken and getting her back, the closer she comes to revealing a truth Luc would rather she didn’t know.
And so to my discovery. Coming up with a plot happens in two stages. First, the spark of the plot came from a question I had about Luc. The fuel came from answering it. And repeat. Keep asking until all the questions are answered. There’s your story.