Friday, October 3, 2014

Kate Wrath Author of E

Please welcome Kate Wrath, Author of E, the first book in her dystopian series. Although dark, Kate brings to life the emotions of her characters in an unimaginable world.

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.

Reflecting on our own stories is equally important.  I am currently polishing Evolution, the second book in the E series, as I prepare for release on November 12th.  As I worked through my edits, I noticed that there was a section in the middle of the novel that, plot-wise, just wasn’t cutting it.  I knew it needed major changes, but for a long time, I didn’t know what to do with it.  So I sat down and pondered on the purpose of that section.  What did I want to show and why?  Then I kept the main elements and trashed the rest.  

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.  

Now, I’m really excited about this section and so glad that my process took me through all the difficulties.  The point is, sometimes you have to push through and use methods that are not the most comfortable for you, but persistence and flexibility usually pay off.

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!


  1. Hi Kate and welcome to the Djen Den!

    I'm going to hope that third time's charmed. I've tried to enter a comment twice already. Once at work (no internet connection) and once on my phone when I got home (I vowed not to get on a computer again today) only to have it lose my content when I tried to post it.

    Well, here I am, on the computer I wasn't going to get on, in order to comment.

    You make some very valid points especially for those, like Lisa and yourself, who are plotters. I, as Lisa can attest, am a total pantser who rarely makes notes and never does charts. I love when my characters lead me to their own plot twists, and I let them, within reason.

    Thank you for sharing your insights. Regardless of how any of us write, the points you hit on are important to all of us.

    Best wishes for your November release!

    RG Calkins

  2. Thanks, RG. You also make a very valid point. I truly believe that every writer works in their own way, and that everyone should absolutely do what works for them. Interestingly enough, I am often a pantser myself! When I started writing E, it was completely by the seat of my pants. I didn't even have a concept or a character. I sat down to write (just for fun) and was so surprised at what came out. I love writing this way and find it to be incredibly entrancing. It's so easy to get fresh, vibrant ideas when you don't even know what is going to happen next. In that sense, I would say my advice applies more to the editing stages of writing. Checking for logic, follow-through of ideas, and consistency is always important, no matter how you arrive at that point. And I would still recommend checking for emotion levels and fixing any areas that lag.

    Ultimately, I believe flexibility is key. Whatever your style of writing, always be willing to try new things, especially when the process that has been working for you hits a roadblock. I am honestly *not* the sort of writer who makes charts (or bubble graphs) on a regular basis. But sometimes, getting out of my comfort zone helps me tremendously.

    Well, thanks for taking the time to comment (especially since it was so incredibly involved)! Always fun to talk shop with another writer! :)