Saturday, March 5, 2011

Have You Lost the Plot?

Losing your way in your very own plot can happen to any writer. You're pounding along and suddenly - wham! - the plot thickens and turns into your worst nightmare. Suddenly you can't see the wood for the trees! Before you throw your computer (or typewriter or pen and paper) out the window, here's some great advice from James Scott Bell's The Ultimate Revision Checklist. I found this on the excellent Writer's Digest site courtesy of Jane Friedman.

There Are No Rules - 6 Common Plot Fixes

Some Key Questions to Ask About Your Plot
* Is there any point where the reader might want to put your book down? (Shudder! Yes, it happens to the best of writers.)
* Does your novel feel like it's about people doing things? (Maybe doing too many things?)
* Does the plot seem forced and unnatural? (Even though you know in your heart of hearts this is the best novel since ... well, since the last best novel ever.)
* Is the story out of balance? Too much action? Too much reaction? (Ha! Seriously, can there be too much action?)

Maybe even one 'yes' means you should read this good advice because there are six simple ways to doctor your plot back to (almost) perfection. In fact the six simple steps are so simple you could say to yourself, "Hey, I knew that!"

These tips are so good I'm going to print them out and stick them on the wall when I begin the monumental task of editing my second children's adventure novel. Oh yes, I'm going to ask myself, "Is there too much action here? I mean, seriously, can there ever be too much action?" Don't answer that that!


Michelle G. Pereira said...

Those are some great tips. I think as a discovery writer it's easy for me to get caught up writing a scene because it's cool even if it doesn't establish a darn thing, but having those tips as I edit will help trim my pet monster down to size. Thanks :)

Janice Clark said...

It's important to edit your work but don't throw away the bits you snip out, especially those scenes you love but that didn't work out for this story. They may come in handy later, to spark another story where they fit better.