14 November 2009

An Insult to Plot

At first, I'm offended. But I'm always a little touchy when it comes to put-downs on plot.

A writer gives up dreams of literary genius. Okay... this could be good. Writing a novel is a journey; can't afford unnecessary baggage. Letting go of genius allows her to write what comes to her. Not to censor herself. Let it be crap. Trust the process as she messes around exploring different voices on her search for her own true, authentic voice. 

...for a "mass market deal you buy in the airport." My fur bristles at that -- oh, yeah, I don't have any fur... 

First off, I've never known anyone who would pass up the chance to write a mass market blockbuster novel sold at airports. It's much more of an accomplishment than the writer gives it credit for. Much harder than she thinks. 

Wait a minute. Slow down.... Me being defensive doesn't serve the writer well. 

What she is truly saying is the Dramatic Action plot is easier for her to create than the Character Emotional Development plot

She's approaching the time in the story when she has to peel back another layer of the protagonist. Get closer, go deeper, find the internal motivational stuff behind the character's actions. 

Actions = external. 

Motivation = internal. 

Some writers prefer one over the other.

I say: be thankful you have a strong front story (dramatic action, plotted) in place filled with conflict and suspense. Use that as the base for the rest of the story. 

You want to develop an important narrative voice. 

Okay, write the mass market plotted draft first. 

Think of what you are doing as a layering. 

Get the first layer down = dramatic action easiest for you. 

Ask yourself constantly: 

  • Why is the character doing what he's doing = motivation. 
  • Have him set goals that he hopes will take him closer to his  big , overall story goal. 
If that's a mass market plotted story, so be it...

Finished first draft allows for the next layer to go on.

For more on Character Emotional Development versus Dramatic Action plots: