Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Writerly Wednesday - For When Your Plot Seriously Bites....

Happy Wednesday, friends!  So...I know what you're thinking.  "Why hasn't Donea been posting on Tuesdays?"  I hate to admit it, but I've come down with a nasty case of...Lazy-Blogger syndrome.  You might want to draw a poised finger back.  No concrete facts yet, but the condition is possibly contagious....  I tell you this because I care.  :)

Speaking of caring...for those lovely bloggers who've awarded me The Stylish Blogger or Versatile Blogger Award in the past few  *cough, cough* ummm...weeks... I DO appreciate it!!  Seriously.  You all rock.  And by "you", I mean:

Deniz Bevan at The Girdle of Melian
Lady Jai at Snippets From My Mind
and Alison Stevens

Thank you, ladies!!  And, my fine readers - please check these great bloggers out and follow, if you like what you see.

One last thing before I actually get to the nitty-gritty of the title of this post - WRITEONCON, 2011 is coming to a computer near you in August!!!!  Now - I wasn't a part of this event last year (merely because I hadn't heard of it yet, but no excuses...) HOWEVER - I will definitely be there this year.  It's put on by some bloggers that I just LOVE - Shannon Messenger and Elana Johnson, and their awesome others.  There's a cool badge over on my side-bar with a count down to the big event.  Feel free to check it out!  *They are giving away agent query critiques - so GO NOW!



So - what to do if  your plot:  a)  blows chunks  b) sucks, like thick chocolate shake up a tiny straw  or c) reads so badly, you want to cut your eyeballs out?

My advice?  Kill someone.  No, wait!  Blow something up.  Yes - that's a good one!

Better advice?  Listen to a professional.  I am not one.  I know, I know...shocking.  :)  Again - I turn to the good people at Writer's Digest with a recent article titled, "6 Common Plot Fixes", posted by Brian - it's an excerpt from James Scott Bell's "The Ultimate Revision Checklist".  Here's my bare-bones edition, but you can read the whole article by clicking HERE.

First - ask yourself the following questions about your plot:

Is there any point where a reader might feel like putting the book down?



Does the novel feel like it's about people doing things?


Does the plot feel forced or unnatural?


Is the story out of balance? Too much action? Too much reaction?

*If you answered "yes"...try one of the following:
 
Plot fix #1:  Keep nabbing ideas.  During revisions especially, you mind will be running the plot points of your story through your head, over and over again.  New ideas could emerge.  Be prepared to write these down whenever/where ever they strike!  A good rule for writers - keep a notebook and a pen handy.
 
Plot fix #2:  Create Two Trajectories.  Try giving your MC a personal problem and a plot problem.  The personal could complicate how he/she deals with the plot.  Think about it...
 
Plot fix #3:  Add another level of complication.  Basically - don't hold back on the magnitude of bad you can inflict upon your poor MC.  (See!  My killing or blowing up things idea wasn't sooo far off, after all!)
 
Plot fix #4:  Add a character.  Too few characters can lead to a weak plot, or a weaker way to deal with the plot.  Too many characters can just be too much.  Find the right mix.
 
Plot fix #5:  Beware of unmotivated actions.  Newton's law, right?  Actions and equal reactions.  If your MC does something, there better be a darn good reason for it!
 
Plot fix #6:  Change a setting.  Your world, your settings are pretty integral to your story.  BUT!  It never hurts to switch things up.  The more unique the locale, the better.  Take a fight out of the bedroom and stick it in a crowded theater, Midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture show or something like that.  They can throw toast at each other.
 
Just a few ideas.  You know your story and deep down, you know how to fix it if it needs fixing.  Hopefully these tips just spur you to action.  Happy writing, all!

18 comments:

Jess said...

I read this whole post, but because you mentioned chocolate shakes, that's all I can think of right now :) Thank you so much for summarizing that Writer's Digest article--I saw it, but it was one that I forgot to go back and read. Much appreciation!

Angela Felsted said...

It looks like a great article. Thank you for sharing it with us. And your voice is so engaging, I always love coming to your blog.

Tanya Reimer said...

I chuckled when I saw you just won a styling award, because we love you so much, I'm bringing you another one!! Thanks again for a great post. It never hurts to remind ourselves what readers want, since we tend to get those rose coloured glasses on to read our own work.

So. I have a styling award for you on my blog.
http://tanyareimer.blogspot.com
No pressure.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Donea,

Fun post! There is some wonderful advise in this. I will remember when I go through yet another revision of my first novel.... EEKK!

Have a great day!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

great tips. I can't wait for WriteOnCon. It's awesome. You definitely don't want to miss it. :D

mooderino said...

Good list, thanks for the condensed version. I've not heard of writeoncon, sounds interesting, will look into it.
cheers,
mood

Madeleine said...

Hmmm, raises dastardly eyebrow. Kill someone? But who?

Actually I almost kill someone in my MC ;O)

Witless Exposition said...

Great tips! Going in the starred file on GReader.

I've never heard of Writeoncon, either, so I'll be checking that out too!

Carol Riggs said...

These are super ideas! I'm going to copy them down and check over my last 2 novels...

Happy Wednesday!

Samantha Sotto-Yambao said...

Very helpful tips! You gave me a lot to think about for my WIP today. Thanks for sharing :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Send a monkey into space! Hey, it worked for Saturday morning cartoons. Right before they died of course.

Devin Bond said...

These are some great tips! Definitely keeping them in mind :) Thanks for sharing.

Meredith said...

What amazing advice! I'm revising my plot right now, and this was just what I needed. Also, I need to put characters at the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at some point...

Deniz Bevan said...

You're very welcome!
And thanks for all the plot boosting ideas. I think I'll focus on editing the end of the novel this week and ask it some of these questions...

Abby Minard said...

Yay for writeoncon! Can't wait for this year's! I got those tips from writers digest the other day too. I had to check it out, just in case ;p

DEZMOND said...

I've assumed myself recently that Lazy-Blogger syndrome was contagious since it spread like an epidemic around the blogosphere :) Many bloggers are AWOL and missing in action :(

Great writing ideas, Donea, as always! :)

Donna Weaver said...

Good post. And the book came this week. Thanks again!

Rachel Morgan said...

Some good tips here (I especially like the add another level of complication one). And thanks for the reminder about write on con. Like you, I didn't know about it last year, but I'm not missing it this year!