By Mary Buckham and Dianna Love, co-creators of Break Into FictionTM
Creating a novel-length story requires compiling a huge amount of information from character development to the final resolution. Every writer has his or her own way of pulling all of that together to end up with a book, but regardless if you are a pantster or a plotter there are certain elements in all commercial fiction.
There’s no way we can take you through all the levels of Character-Driven Plotting in one blog article, so we’d like to go over some of the biggest problems or issues we see in our Plot YOUR Book in 2 Days Retreats attended by new writers and mass market published authors.
All writers get excited about a story because of something that ignites an original idea or a scene they envision or a character talking to them. That’s great. You need to hold onto what excites you about the story. New writers and published authors run into similar problems, but for different reasons. A newer writer may not be familiar with all the components of a compelling story as they are often still going through the initial learning curve. A published author is very aware of what is necessary, but does not recognize when a story is lacking those components – how to find plot holes.
Trouble shooting a novel length commercial fiction story and rejection letters:
- The infamous “sagging middle” indicates a lack of plot, lack of turning points, lack of stakes rising and possibly a lack of character development.
- A rejection that says “Interesting story concept but I didn’t connect with the characters” means character development is lacking.
- A rejection that says “…not big enough to be single title” may indicate a large enough premise for a single title, but what you consider subplot is not significant to the central story line.
How do you find these holes? A good place to start is with the character to see if he/she is truly motivated or just “doing things the author needs them to do.” Or, ask yourself if your character’s external goal is really strong, or worthy of an entire book.
Another problem we see often is that the central character(s) don’t really accomplish anything or move the story forward – they just go from one non-escalating action to another that has no true impact on the story.
Writers don’t always realize they are creating plot holes or unmotivated characters, because as writers we tend to be to close to the work. The best way to locate problems in the plot and/or with the characters is to ask a more experienced writer or find a instructional program that will show you how to recognize weaknesses. If that is not available, then here’s an exercise: Analyze each scene to make sure that whatever action is happening in your story impacts the external plot line or the internal growth. In the strongest stories, the action impacts both.
If you find yourself challenged by any of the issues we’ve brought up in this blog, speak up as we’ve been able to help lots of writers, both published and pre-published, “see” their work in a new light.
So, what stumps you when it comes to plotting?
Award-winning authors Mary Buckham and Dianna Love met while teaching online and at live workshops across the country. As relatively new authors who can appreciate the mountain of resource books needed to learn the craft, they used their analytical skills to assimilate a program where writers could immediately apply new information learned to their own stories. This program is called the Break Into FictionTM Template Teaching Series. For more information, go to www.BreakIntoFiction.com
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
is about women connecting and sharing, offering support, encouragement, information, a recommendation—or just a good belly laugh.
The opinions expressed in individual posts are those of the author, not necessarily those of the entire Wet Noodle Posse. Copyright of any entry belongs to the author. Entries may not be reproduced without credit and permission.
- Mining Character Arcs for Plot
- Crafting Subplots
- This Week on the Wet Noodle Posse Blog
- Question and Answer Day
- Guest blogger Katey Coffing on Plotting
- Keeping Organized - Writing With A Notebook
- Outlines or Index Cards?
- The Organic Approach (Or I Have No Idea What I'm D...
- Noodler March Releases
- This Week on the Wet Noodle Posse Blog