They say the first step to recovery is to admit you’ve got a problem.

Deep Breath. Okay. I’ve got a problem.

(Crud. I’m realizing I’ve already admitted this problem before right here in my Live Journal. I’m not sure admitting it is going to be of any help, but here I go…)

I am plot challenged. I go along okay, for a while, full of verve and voice and joie-de-vive, and then by golly if I don’t come to a place where I have no idea what happens next. So I reread and then I get bogged down in what I’ve got. I contemplate jumping ahead to something that I KNOW happens, but then the terror of making all the pieces fit together makes me freeze. And then I begin to think it’s all just a bunch of crap with no point and I’m not meant to be a novel writer anyway.

I know, I know, you’ve told me before that you all feel this way when you’re writing a book and if I keep plowing forth it will sort of all magically become clear when it comes time for the second draft. I only half believe you. That’s good. Half belief is better than doubt. I half believe you because on the one novel I did write a complete draft of, it became so clear what I need to do to revise it as I neared the end of the first draft that I began to think you might actually be telling me the truth. And when I go back to revise it, I do think the second draft will be easier.

Last time lisa_schroeder told me to go read Cheryl Klein’s notes on plot. So I did. And they were tremendously helpful and encouraging. And when I’m ready to revise the first novel, I will read them again. But now I’m in the middle of writing the second novel and rather than throw my hands up in despair and open up a dozen picture book files in order to try and get something, anything, accomplished, I’m reading this book:

I can’t say it’s just rocking my world yet. I haven’t found the secret to finishing my book yet. But at least I’m looking at plot with a little less desperation in my eyes. It’s making more sense and I don’t look as much like a rabid animal today. Okay, whatever. I still look like a rabid animal but I’ve got total confidence that I’ll actually be able to sleep tonight and I’ll wake up in the morning refreshed and ready to work on my plot issues. There’s the slightest glimmer at the end of the tunnel. It could just be the dying embers of my plotless novel as seen through my tears. But it might be light. And I’m sprinting for it.

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10 thoughts on “

    1. Sometimes I think I need to be a little more lighthearted about it. As in, it’s just a story; I can fix it later. 🙂 But no, I get all bent on making it right the first time and somehow I just don’t think that’s possible. For me, anyway.

  1. I remember hearing a speaker once (unfortunately, I can’t think who!) who talked about writing being chaos and that out of chaos, you find clarity. Now when I reach the point of a writing project where it all feels like a mess, I remind myself that it’s all part of the process and that somewhere, there’s a jewel to be discovered.

  2. I’m also plot challenged, but I’ve recently discovered something that may seem obvious to others. Plot should flow from something inside your characters, as opposed to an idea that you force upon them. Does that make any sense? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve revised my novel–but this is what I think has finally made it work –I hope!

    Good luck, Kristy.

  3. I am so with you, Kristy! Plot is definitely my weakness. I mean, I keep asking myself, is it REALLY necessary? Why do we need a plot? I can write very well without one. Oh . . . there’s that selling-the-manuscript thing. Yeah, well. OK, so here’s the workbook I’m borrowing from Anne Marie which is really good: Darcy Pattison’s NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS. The chapter on plot is very helpful. (No, you can’t have it back yet, Anne Marie, because I’m still struggling and have to read it and do the exercises about 50 more times.)

  4. Anonymous

    Kristy,

    When that happens to me, I usually walk away and work on something else. Forcing it doesn’t work, and rules depress me. It may take a while (a few days to a few months) but it’s worked for me.

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