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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Plot Brain: Part 2

Arrrgh! The plot's all laid out in a summary, but those first chapters don't quite work in the first draft. Or do they? Is it too slow and dull? Is the build-up to the real action essential and interesting or merely labored? Will my editor like it? Will anybody?

Perhaps if the description were trimmed, the dialog crisped up, the verbs more vivid, then it would be fine. But a cliche is solidifying, the one about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Structure, not style, is the issue. Probably.

Clearly the root problem is lack of talent. The great reviews on the first two books were flukes of an irrational industry, of minds infantilized by television and bad movies, or of kind-hearted strangers who couldn't bear to speak their real opinions. There is no hope, none at all, of lightening striking three times. I should learn to knit. The world would be better for it, rather than throwing ink and pixels at what is sure to remain a hopeless mess.

Is the wallowing over yet? It better be. This is taking up valuable time. Shoulder to the wheel: what am I trying to accomplish here, the core passion for this tale? Get away from the keyboard and pace in circles until that comes into focus once again. That summary is a jigsaw puzzle where each piece can fit in several places, but some may be missing. Mess with the major scenes. Challenge each one--whether it's needed, where it belongs. Harder: what else could happen? Rearrange, reinvent.

Brain: do your thing. Think, dammit, think!

Is there something wrong with wallowing?


Sandra Parshall said...

LOL! Ann, you are not alone. (Struggling through a first draft myself right now, convinced I will never have enough story dough to knead into a real book.)

Tina said...

I blame Pluto's recent transit into Pisces, the sign represented by two fish leaving their car keys in the freezer. Also Mercury retrograde. Bad one-two punch. I had to take 100 old business cards and lay the whole dang novel out on my dining room table. It's still there. We just eat on top of it. Usually around 8:30.

Ann Littlewood said...

Tina, that is hilarious. I like the technique, although I've generally gone with stickies on the office door. They flutter down like autumn leaves, a dubious metaphor for sure.

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