Holly has got some great advice on how to plot. Check it out here.
Before I hit the sack I have a couple of things to write about what I learned during tonight’s editing session.
- My story is waaaaaaaay too complex. The first draft of my novel topped off at about 120,000 words and I am starting to realize it’s because I have too much going on. It’s not even that I have too much conflict. I wish! Rather I’m finding that a lot of scenes I wrote into the story serve absolutely no purpose. Maybe they began as a way to reveal something about the characters but they ended up being these bloated scenes that mean nothing and go nowhere. I might have really loved these parts at some point but it’s time to let them go.
- If you’ve browsed through my spec-fic tastes then you know I’m all about some geekery, and if you’re a fan of the same kind of stuff then you know that spec-fic is packed with awesome examples of how a plot should roll. Perfect example: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’m talking about the show, not the movie, n00b.) In every season of Buffy there is a Big Bad–an evil entity who is trying to make the world go boom! This is uber-important for me to remember because in the course of the first draft I veered away from the super-dooper bad guy conflict and got wrapped up in all the minor conflicts. Don’t get me wrong, all those little conflicts are great to read, but they need to tie into the main conflict in some way. If the little conflicts aren’t messing up my protaginist’s plans to resolve the problem she’s faced with then they need to get the old hasta la vista, baby.
And that’s where I’m at for now.
First of all, let me say up front that I have really enjoyed working on this book. I feel like I’ve learned more in the last two months about the process of writing than in the preceding two years. That being said, I am going to take a moment to gripe about how difficult I think it is to end chapters.
People reading this might immediately assume that I’ve got it all wrong. The end of a chapter is only a few lines, they say. How tough is that? Intuitively, this might make total sense. They assume it’s the big chunk of text between the beginning and the end that’s the tough part. This, friends, is what I call, “crazy talk.”
Before I go on, let me give you a little background on the timeline for my novel project.
I spent about a month before I even began writing, hashing out the general ideas of what I wanted to say. After a bunch of Google searches on the “best” way to plot a novel, I came up with a method that seemed like it might be pretty useful to me. I bought a couple stacks of note cards and jotted out ideas for the main scenes that I knew were necessary for my story. These were serious points of conflict between my protagonist and the world I had created for her. After I got down these major bumps in the plot, I started filling the gaps between the major scenes in order to develop how the conflict plays out. For instance, I knew the my protagonist was going to have a love interest, but I also knew that at some point that there would be some conflict surrounding the relationship when she found out a few bits of info about her new beau. The issue became how to reconcile these two events in a way that would make sense to the reader and also keep the plot interesting, and that’s where the additional note cards came into play. I filled up the space between two events, making sure that Event A made sense with Event B.
But see, all that plotting seems to have bound me up. In planning things out so much I left out one key ingredient: spontaneity. In the past, whenever I started a book I ended up fizzling out somewhere around a quarter of the way through. Because I had no idea where the thing was going–just an idea to work with–at some point I lost interest. To stop this from happening I decided to plot out the entire book, and in effect killed my ability to come up with a snappy and creative ending to chapters in an on-the-fly way.
Alas, all is not lost. While I may have planned a little too much, I have learned something very important about writing a book. You see, lots of people out there say they have the best way of writing a novel, but what I have found through this experience is that I need to find out what works for me and just try and kick ass at doing it.