Wednesday, September 9, 2015
PLOTTING: WHAT? YOU WERE SERIOUS ABOUT THAT?
A few weeks ago I had my manuscript critiqued by a very kind and very smart author, and you know what she told me? That I needed to put more work into plotting! What the hell? Just because she asked me what my main character wanted, and what the climax of the story was, and other such annoying questions, and I didn't know the answers to any of them? SO WHAT? Didn't she know that because I'm a good writer, and I've created interesting characters, and the book begins at Point A and ends at Point B, I am exempt from the laws of plotting???
Look. It's not that I've never heard anyone talk about plotting. I've attended several million writing conferences and workshops, I've read one or two million writers' blogs and seen photos of their charts (some color-coded, some not), notebooks, index cards, Post-its, spreadsheets... I got it, okay? Some poor souls need to plot out their books. I, on the other hand, do not. Because I'm, ya know, gifted, I guess.
Twenty years of trying to write novels before a tiny glimmer of light finally enters my thick skull. Yes, I need to know before I write Page One what my main character wants, and pretty soon, she also needs to know what she wants, or nobody will care enough to keep reading about her. Yes, I need to have the first half of the book lead inexorably toward the midpoint. Yes, I need to then start gaining speed and tension until I'm barreling toward the climax, after which I can smoke a metaphorical cigarette and reward myself with the denouement. YES, YES, YES, OKAY? I AM NOT SPECIAL. I AM NOT EXEMPT. I NEED TO LEARN TO PLOT JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, OR EVERYTHING I'VE EVER WRITTEN WILL JUST END UP IN A DRAWER ALONG WITH MY HOPES AND DREAMS.
I was blind, but now I see.
Which only means that now it's going to be possible for me to make the revisions I need to make. "Possible" does not rule out "torturous."
I hear there are people in the world who for some reason don't need to do everything the hard way. I don't believe it, though, do you?