Happy hump day!!
Plotting. Ah yes. I will scratch my head for hours trying to come up with the best strategy. This morning, I stumbled upon this on Pinterest:
Oh. That makes my life easier. I was a total nube when it came to plot, and structure my story in a logical way. I was very much like J.J. Abrams in Lost – I’d give you a million clues and not a single answer. LOL (sorry J.J. but it’s true).
Following this five step roadmap is easy. It really is. Until you realize your main character has more than one problem to solve, and the resolution of the story might not be so clear to you as you thought it would. When you tackle a trilogy, or a series, one main plot will encompass several sub-plots, and sometimes, sub-sub-plots. So here’s my personal trick to make things easier.
Just reapply the five step roadmap to each plot. It’s gonna be less confusing than trying to manage all the characters and plots under one main roadmap. But here’s where the writing process is gonna hit another roadblock. You wrote your plot, and subplots. You defined your characters, and made sure they’re going to follow a certain path and evolve accordingly. Now you write.
Thanks again Pinterest for this lovely picture. Your first draft will not be final and your plot will change, which means your subplots will too. Your characters might evolve so much, you have to revise their role in the story, possibly eliminate them or move them around like pretty chess pieces.
And here comes the famous question: why the f*** did I decide to write a novel?
As you put together the puzzle pieces and try to obtain a big picture, you need to focus on the main roadmap – not the subplots, but the general thread that keeps your book together. Without that main plot, you’re royally fried like a chicken nugget.
I talked the other day about how to stay focused and how to follow one word in order to avoid too much frustration when writing. Well, my friends, this is it. This is the moment where your entire story needs to be summarized to one word.
Here’s the process I went through when I started working on 32 Seconds – which wasn’t titled 32 Seconds by the way.
Initially, I wrote about a girl who had anger issues. Because I wanted to go YA and fantasy, I made her 17, a rebel teenager, filled with angst. Nothing crazy here. Then I transported her into a fantasy world I hadn’t really thought hard about. I just sent her to a time where Mayan pyramids still existed, and then I made her eat magic chocolates, because why not? I put a weird wizard in the middle, and some strange supporting characters, and I thought, okay, my job is done.
If you asked me the first time to summarize this story with one word, the first thought that came to mind was: clusterfuck. And it was. There was no main thread holding the story together. The girl has anger issues, and we didn’t know why. She didn’t seem to want to work on those issues, and her journey into this parallel universe seemed absolutely pointless. To think that I released thirty thousand words of mere clusterfuck and people actually enjoyed reading my story told me I didn’t suck so bad as a writer, but I definitely had to step up my game a bit. So I rewrote everything.
Second draft, I decided to call my story The Truth Within. Ah here I came with a plan. The main character had anger issues and wanted to solve them. She still landed in that weird world, but I began to think of a purpose for her. She had super powers, and was supposed to save the world.
Again, nothing new here. But we’re making progress.
Third draft, I changed the title again!! Now we have 32 Seconds. First, I think the title sounds great. It’s catchy, and makes you think of an action-packed story. Something a la Mission Impossible mixed with horror elements and some romance because we all need some love after all. I keep following my idea of this main character and her anger issues. She lands in a parallel world (no more Mayan pyramids) after eating an enchanted chocolate. The supporting characters help her understand why she’s angry, and why she needs to change. The plot takes a psychological turn. The main character is growing, facing challenges, she wants to change but is scared to do so. What will give her the incentive to move on? Her life is a mess. She needs to get a grip. A do or die situation comes along. If she doesn’t change, she’s gonna stay stuck in that parallel universe.
You follow my train of thoughts now. I’m within the five step roadmap and I’m not giving you clues that lead you straight into a wall of nowhere. I’m actually telling a story, giving you answers, and my character has a purpose. The world she lives in has a meaning. The supporting characters play a specific role. I had to swap them around, of course, and create new ones, while removing old ones, but together, they formed a unity.
The whole process took more than one year and a half, and approximately five full rewrites (and I’m talking 90k words).
Phew. But we made it. We’re almost there. And I am happy to say I found the word that summarizes my story: redemption.
So here’s the morale of this post. If your main thread is solid, you will spend less time worrying and more time writing. The number of rewrites won’t really change unless you follow the same formula for each story you create. Don’t give up. Keep focusing on that one word and everything will fall into place.
Alright, that’s enough for me today. Until next time, have a lovely day, folks!