I'm looking forward to reading her series and I hope you give her novels a try. Don't forget to leave Kate a comment, I'm sure she would be happy to hear from you.
Thanks so much, Lisa, for having me on your blog.
Today I’d like to talk a little about plotting difficulties, and how I handle working through them.
Honestly, plotting has always been the most difficult aspect of storytelling for me. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, a long time ago, I heard the old adage that everything’s been done before, and unfortunately, it stuck with me. My plotting was a happy little ladybug that someone squished with unnecessary force. Secondly, I have always been about the characters. I tend to write for myself, and in that respect, I’m perfectly happy if nothing is happening, so long as my characters are growing.
For many years, I wrote stories that could be considered incredibly long character sketches.
The good news is also twofold: Nowadays my character-building gets a lot of positive comments. And beyond that, great plots can evolve out of great characters. So, in essence, solid character-building is an excellent starting point for plotting. However, it is just that-- a starting point. It is vitally important to build in excitement and high emotion. Things need to be happening. There’s another old adage about “sending in the guys with guns.” Rather than take this literally, I prefer to think of it as a reminder to monitor the emotion-levels of my story, and when things start to feel a little flat, add something to spice things up. This could, literally, be guys with guns, or it could be anything else that will tantalize your reader. For example a plot twist.
Plot twists are not really easy, especially when you are new to writing. Detaching yourself from the story is a difficult task, and one that must be done in order to tell if something is surprising. Oftentimes, things we think are surprising are actually predictable and contrived. That said, I believe that the best way to get a feel for effective plot twists is to examine stories that you love. What surprised you? Why did you like it? How did it make you feel? These are all excellent questions to ask and reflect on.
With my goal in mind, I worked through a bubble graph. (I don’t usually work this way, but I needed to get it down visually.) I included important things that were obvious and started charting new ideas off of that. As things filled out, I connected ideas that worked together and jotted down notes on the connections. The going was difficult at first. My creativity just wasn’t feeling it with this section. But as I got more information down on paper, I had a big breakthrough. Ideas opened up, and something surprising came out of it.
Another important point I want to touch on is achieving consistency. In a story, everything has a reason. Cause equals effect. If reason, logic, and motivation are not in place, your readers will notice. Sometimes reasons and motivations will be hidden, but this is an entirely different thing from the author not knowing them. As an author, you should always know the reason for everything.
That said, some things will slip through your fingers during the writing phase, and you will have to go back and fix them during editing. The key to editing-in explanations is to feed the reader the explanation before they need it. This keeps the reading experience smooth. Just imagine your reader spending two chapters grumbling about plot inconsistencies because something you wrote didn’t make sense. Suspension-of-disbelief is broken. The reader disconnects from the heart of the story. Then, eventually, an explanation is provided. But given too late, it cannot undo the disbelief. Chances are, you’ve lost your reader for good.
So take the time, think all the plot lines through and make sure they line up. Fix anything that you suspect might be a stumbling point for your reader. The result is worth every bit of time and effort you put into it.
All this barely touches on the vast topic of plotting, but hopefully there are a few points that beginning writers will find helpful. Above all, I encourage you to write for yourself, and to do it because you absolutely love the story. Happy writing!
You can reach Kate at the following links
Thanks again Kate for your wonderful writing advice and thanks for being on my blog!
I hope you enjoyed Kate's insightful article and will check out her new book. I don't think you'll be disappointed!
Until next Friday, have a great weekend!