Glove or Glass Slipper

Glove or Glass Slipper

YEAH, yeah, I know. Another post about something not fitting. I promise it is not a trend; it just seems to be trending in my writing and plotting lately. But there’s a true reason why I am writing this post.

Back in the day, I used to keep a binder of all my pre-writing stuff so that I could quickly access data regarding characters, settings, languages, maps, etc. with a quick thumbing through of the tabs of the binder. Actually, because it was so extensive, I had a binder alone just for the languages of my still-unpublished series (perhaps more on that later). While it was technically quite efficient, at least more so than a collection of scraps of paper with scribblings on them, it was still an antiquated way to organize everything.

And that was just how I organized my pre-writing—how I wrote was quite outdated and restrictive as well. I was what is referred to in the writing community as a “pantser” — no, I didn’t go around pulling down the pants of unsuspecting victims, it simply means that I wrote by the seat of my pants, that I had no road map. I remember some days I would sit at my computer attempting to write and the white page anxiety was crippling, and I stubbornly wouldn’t move onto some other scene in my book until I figured out the one I was working on. Seems stupid, now that I think about it, and I probably wasted so much of my time not writing when I could have moved to a different part of the book and worked on that part instead while I let the other scene stew in my brain and work itself out.


WHEN I met my writing coach, Joe Nassise, back in 2011, I had never really heard of plotting. I mean, I vaguely outlined my projects, but only in the sense that I knew the parts of the novel/story that I was forced to study in all my literature classes: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution. And those are definitely crucial parts to have at least softly worked out before you start the writing process, but the study of literature and process of writing it are far different. In actuality, a story is not comprised solely of these 6 parts; each part could have multiple scenes within it, meaning that the scenes have to make sense within their respective parts (having a high-energy climax scene during the falling action of the story might make the resolution seem rushed, etc).

If you think of your story less like a linear path of writing and more like scenes of a movie—like how a director might film certain scenes of a movie first and others later,  joining them together in seamless sequence during editing—it might reduce that white screen anxiety and make your writing process a lot less daunting. So how does one do this? 

When I worked with Joe, he had me think of my chapters as scenes and had me write out the chapter/scene name on the white side of a 3″x5″ index card, and place the basic bullet points of each scene on the lined side. I could pick up any of those index cards on any given day and write that scene. So, if I felt worked up or combative, writing a fight scene that day might be better, and writing a love scene on a day I was feeling extra emotional, romantic, or sentimental would yield a better product because of my respective mood.


BUT here was the other great thing: I didn’t have to get it right the first time. If in writing a scene I realized it didn’t make sense or didn’t fit in that spot, I’d pull the card out (saving the scene for later) or shift it and make another card for the scene that did. I went into this “Glove or Glass Slipper” style of writing with my scene cards. Now you might be asking yourself: “WTF is he talking about?”

Let me explain, and it will (hopefully) make sense.

Some of of you reading this are probably too young to remember the OJ Simpson murder trial, but starting the fall of 1994 and spanning over a year, that was pretty much the thing to watch and follow on television. There was a famous line from OJ’s Defense Attorney, Johnnie Cochran: “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” referring to the glove found at the crime scene, saying that if the glove didn’t fit on OJ’s hand, then he couldn’t have possibly been the one to commit the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. As asinine as that logic is, it’s what returned a not-guilty verdict from the jury, which meant that whomever’s hand fit that glove must be the murderer. Right?

Here’s the issue. Gloves are made to fit more hands than just one person. You know, something something capitalism. In fact, all apparel on the market is generally mass constructed so that it fits multiple buyers and increases profits. Unless it’s custom, like a Glass Slipper, which fits only the person it was designed for. Yes, yes, I am sure you could argue that someone with an identical foot could slide on into it, but those would be few and far between.

Sometimes scenes are Glass Slippers—they fit the gap between their bordering scenes with the precision of footwear formed by a fairy godmother; but other times, a scene can fit like a generic glove—too loosely that the scenes around it seem disconnected, as if it belonged somewhere else, or even too tightly, and leaving it in place would be almost criminal, like getting away with murder.


SINCE I started writing again after my hiatus, one of the tools I’ve grown the most fond of is Plottr. It acts as both binder and index card holder, keeping information such as places, characters, notes all in one place while also acting as a timeline of your story with Scene Cards—much like those trusty index cards of yore—which you can move around, even to another book in the series if you realize that the scene you just finished writing belongs at a different place in the whole scheme of the overall plot.

THIS past weekend was spent doing damage control on my own Plottr timeline for Wonderspark. What I had originally plotted was fitting as well as the foot of an evil stepsister, and the more I tried to make it fit, the more holes I created in the plot further down the line. But the great thing about Plottr is that instead of just scrapping all the scenes within the existing timeline that didn’t fit, I moved them with one click to a “bucket” project from which I can pull from later, even for an unrelated project altogether.


WHILE I am still learning the software, I love its capabilities. They offer YouTube tutorials and both free and paid seminars to get the most out of the software. I’ve learned they creators of the software are very receptive to feedback and suggestions, so I have already made a couple of suggested features that would enhance user experience and functionality.

As I learn how to use it better, I plan on giving my own tutorials and creating my own templates for it, so stay tuned!

Square Peg, Round Hole

Square Peg, Round Hole

OFTEN writers are told to trust the process, to let the story unfold naturally, and to listen to the characters as they guide us through their journeys. Yet, despite this sage advice, there are moments when we find ourselves grappling with a stubborn plot point or a character arc that just won’t seem to cooperate. It’s akin to trying to fit a square peg into a round hole–frustrating, time-consuming, and ultimately, counterproductive.

In my own writing journey this past week, I encountered instances where I was trying to force a storyline to conform to my initial vision, only to realize that it’s like swimming against the current–exhausting and futile. The truth is, trying to shoehorn a square peg into a round hole not only impedes the creative process but also robs the story of its authenticity and vitality.


I spent several hours this week outlining, scrapping, and re-outlining countless scenarios to coincide with what I had already plotted. In my original outline, I was trying to weave together several existing parables and mythologies to strengthen the base familiarity of my series, a trick in Speculative Fiction to help readers associate with themes or threads within the story so that disbelief is more readily and easily suspended.

Originally, the backstory I had plotted out involved three brothers, loosely paralleled with the Biblical brothers Cain, Abel, and Seth, and interwoven with the Prometheus myth and Garden of Eden—an undertaking, I know. I would get one or two threads to work and the other would fray from the tapestry. At one point, I had the brothers in Israel, by the Sea of Galilee; at another point, I had them in the Greek Isles; and before I finally decided to let the characters talk to me and tell me their story, I was trying to force them to tell the story from Denmark. And none of these backstories worked because they ultimately weren’t meant to.

Now not every writer from Maine needs to base their stories there—and I am leagues away from having Stephen King’s talent—but why not have the story set in Maine. It’s mystical and majickal, a bit treacherous and rugged, with some of America’s oldest histories and oldest tales… I sat back in my chair and decided to bring it home. Literally. And by doing so, I changed the locale of the entire story (from Boston to Downeast Maine) even if only by 360 miles or so. 


ONE of my favorite areas of Maine is its Downeast coastline of sea caves and high cliffs, islands and inlets, all dotted with lighthouses to warn incoming sailors of the dangers of its jagged shores, a literal beacon of light to ward off darkness and disaster.

I decided to move the timeline of my backstory further into the future than the outlines I scrapped; although there’d still be generations between the backstory and the main plotline, putting centuries between them just to fit the original outline that, well, honestly didn’t fit, made no sense at all and only left plotholes and a heck of a lot more research for me to do—research that theoretically would never make it into the story if only with slight references. It started feeling contrived, forced, hammered into a spot it wasn’t meant to go. It started to feel like overbuilding.

As I did the research of migrations to the Downeast area, it all started falling into place. Instead of making my outline fit to a time or place, I first found a place and then the time when it would all fit. While I still had to find the exact size round hole for it to fit, I was no longer working with a square peg.

Eventually, three McKenna brothers were sparked into creation, fitting the world to which they were born versus being born into a world in which they didn’t fit.



SO, why do we persist in this futile endeavor of forcing? Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid to deviate from our meticulously crafted outlines or reluctant to let go of our preconceived notions of how the story should unfold. We cling to the familiar, even when it’s clear that it’s not serving the narrative. But here’s the thing–writing is a fluid, organic process. It’s about being open to inspiration, allowing the story to evolve naturally, and embracing the unexpected twists and turns along the way. And sometimes, that means being willing to abandon the square peg in favor of the round one.

In my experience, some of the most compelling moments in storytelling arise when we let go of our preconceptions and allow the characters to drive the narrative. It’s about relinquishing control and trusting in the creative energy that flows through us, guiding us toward the story’s true essence. So, the next time you find yourself struggling to make a square peg fit into a round hole in your writing, take a step back. Reassess the narrative, listen to your characters, and be open to alternative possibilities. Remember that writing is a journey of discovery, and sometimes, the most profound insights come when we surrender to the flow of creativity.

In the end, it’s not about forcing the story to conform to our expectations but rather about embracing the beauty of serendipity and allowing the narrative to unfold in its own time and in its own way. After all, the round peg may lead us to places we never imagined possible, enriching the story and our writing journey in ways we could never have anticipated.