Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Plotting 101 or "The Tearing Your Hair Out Method"

Yesterday was rough. I spent most of the day trying to figure out how this book was going to go, how it would end, what the black moment should be, blah blah blah. Problem was, I could get to the Black Moment but everything after that just felt weak. And then I couldn't figure out what my characters were supposed to learn from it, other than the fact that life sucks and you just gotta deal with it.

So I tried a few different strategies, went in about six different directions, tore some more hair out (at this rate I'll be wearing a wig to my sister's wedding), and finally gave up. By the time I came home from work my brain was fried.

To make things worse, I can't seem to find a good book to sink into. I've started about six books in a row now that have not been able to hold my interest and by chapter five, if I even make it that far, I'm tossing them aside and reaching for the next in the pile. On the plus side, I'm learning something valuable -- don't wait so damn long to get into the story! When I start skipping paragraphs and skimming pages waiting for the good stuff to happen, it's not a good thing. Mental note to self: don't do that. But that doesn't help the fact that I don't have a good book to read to keep me inspired. So if anyone has any suggestions, feel free to fire them off.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was still trying to figure out what the heck to do about the unfinished plot issues. Then it hit me at 11 pm last night. I had started in the wrong spot. If I started just one day earlier in the plot, it opened up a whole ream of possibilities. So I grabbed my notebook and scribbled some ideas out and things are slowly starting to fall into place. Hopefully this change will help strengthen the plot. This story is pretty much a straight romance. There isn't an adventure going on behind it to give me something to bounce events off of, which is new for me, so I keep worrying that the elements I have might not be strong enough. But I'll keep at it. I have until September 10th to get this ready.

Meanwhile, for your reading pleasure, there is an update on the documentary Who's Afraid of Happy Endings over at Miss Make A Movie.


kacey said...

ah, the thinking stage of writing. A pain. When I'm stuck like that I usually try to figure out what the H/h need to LEARN by the end of the book. Their growth from point A to Point B.

I've just started a new story and I'm still doing the thinking thing too...so there is an epidemic of hair pulling going on here...

Kelly said...

By next year's conference we will have a bunch of bald writers show up in Dallas...

julia said...

Where did you get that picture for today's blog? You don't have a secret computer cam uploading my private hell onto the web, do you?

And just think - writers get to look forward to more synopsis wrangling with every book proposal. Are we that perverse?

Melissa Marsh said...

Isn't it strange how one little thing, like starting the story a day earlier, makes everything fall into place? :-) Glad you got it figured out.

Tess said...

And I just love the way we get sudden brain waves when all seems lost! Glad you found a way out of your plot block.

Thanks for the link to the update on WAOHE!

Anne M said...

Do your characters have concrete, external goals? That makes plotting easier.

Recommendations for books? Contemporaries: Rachel Gibson's Truly, Madly, Yours - in the SEP tradition.All of hers are good except the newest. Susan Donovan's Take A Chance on Me and Knock Me Off My Feet. Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy.

Do you like Navy Seals? Perhaps Suzanne Brockmann?

For Historicals, some older titles. Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels, Patricia Gaffney's To Have and To Hold, Lisa Kleypas's Dreaming of You.

Let me know if you want to know more about them. They're all older titles so library/ubs or I have some of them.

Rene said...

I think of my black moments first then move on to the plot. Oh yeah, and I figure out where the sex goes. Then I figure out the plot.

My brain is usually just one step ahead of where I am in my writing. Which makes writing a synopsis a whole lot of fun before the book is done.