Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pesky Plot Points

Dear Jillian,

Isn’t this blog supposed to be about writing? Lately you've only talked about teaching and boys with scarves, a topic which you know belongs to Stephanie Perkins.

With all due respect, 

       Your Hypothetical Readers

I know, I know. But thanks to the snow I finally got a chance to get back to my writing. (Remember when I said that I wouldn’t let teaching get in the way of writing? Yeah, that was a good joke. I should have known that it wouldn’t apply to the insanity of the first week.) 

I started with some necessary mid-draft revising and made an important realization: I have a number of needlessly complicated plot points. I imagine it’s because I’m more of a pantser than a planner, so I tend to plow my way through plot problems using a battering ram of words instead of logic. (See – right there I claimed to be using a battering ram to plow, which doesn’t seem very feasible when I think about it.) 

The reason I was doing the revising in the first place was because I needed to fix a major overcomplication that drastically shifted my plot. But as I went through the draft, I kept finding silly little ones. For example, at one point my protagonist is imprisoned and her escape plan requires her to break the routine they've instilled in her and wake up at a certain time. Initially I wrote a whole paragraph about her attempts to train her internal body clock over several days, even though that did awkward things to my timeline. Only yesterday did I reread it and realize that I could just make her one of those people who already HAS a strongly developed internal body clock. DUH. I felt even stupider when I remembered that at the beginning of her story I mention that she’s always the first one to arrive at early morning tennis practice, which would obviously fit someone with a good internal body clock. I really wish my characters would just tell me these things up front and save us both from some very awkward writing.

Best of luck with your own plotting, editing, and battering ram plowing!

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