Plot? What Plot?

Post ImageTwo things amazed me about my writing progress last year: 1) that I was actually doing it; and 2) that I managed to write over four hundred pages without even the slightest hint of a plot. This is okay for forty pages or so, you know, just introducing the characters, setting, and what not. Maybe eighty if you’re particularly gifted with adjectives. Maybe even two hundred pages, if you have the luxury of forcing all your readers to enjoy your work at gunpoint. But never, ever four hundred pages.

Yes, yes, I realized I touched on all this in the last book update. Today I just want to dig into the whole concept a bit more.

Not every book actually needs a plot. Travel books, memoirs, dictionaries, — all of these have the ability to fill hundreds of pages without even the merest threat of a twist ending. However, unlike the other books I’ve written, this one is fiction. As I got to the point where I realized the book might never end, it dawned on me that I might not be the only one to notice the problem.

For one, books that never end are very expensive to print. But worse, books that never end are never read. And, like most writers, I’m definitely writing to be read. So what’s a struggling wannabe to do? Come up with a plot, of course.

Disclaimer: I’m not a complete idiot. I did know about this strange literary device called a plot before I started. And to be honest, I had one when I started. I wrote up an outline which looked okay when it was only seventeen lines. It wasn’t until I actually started writing, however, that I realized it was about as thin as butter scraped across too much bread. There was no way my piddly little idea could support the weight of an entire novel.

As I mentioned in the last post, I began work on a second book (or booklet). I worked on it for two days. It’s about ten thousand words long and told in the first person point of view. It fully fleshed out the backstory I needed to give the main story a sense of purpose. Once I had that, I officially abandoned the first draft and went back to the literary drawing board: the synopsis. (If you can’t tell a story in 500 words, you sure won’t do it in 500,000 words. Trust me.) This second pass of the synopsis is getting a lot closer to where I want to be. Still a ways to go, but closer (and in the right direction).

Even better — for you, that is — I may be ready to actually unveil some of this mystery when Update Three rolls around. Which means I’d better stop typing here and get back to the word processor.

8 Responses to “Plot? What Plot?”

Tami said
January 19, 2010 at 8:19 am

*laughs* Ah, I remember the day I realized I actually needed a plot.

It wasn’t that long ago, and I’m still trying to figure out just exactly how to go about making one that other people care about.

Woot for your continued writing adventures, and doublewoot for synopsis!

    Charlie said
    January 19, 2010 at 8:27 am

    …that other people care about

    Ay, there’s the rub! I go back and forth on that but in the end I’m forced to return to this: it doesn’t matter. If I like it, it will be as good as I can possibly make it. I can’t design it or implement it in a fashion engineered to force others to like it.

      Tami said
      January 19, 2010 at 8:41 am

      True, true. There is a portion of commercial (paid) writing that is for the reader, not the writer, but the vast majority should always be for the writer.

      I have a problem coming up with external conflict. I’m so character-centric that I come up with internal conflict galore, but adding in kidnappings and bad guys and battles is exactly that – added in.

      It’s almost never where I start thinking about the story.

      (also, I’m not sure your follow up comments notify thinger is working. *pokes it*)

        Charlie said
        January 19, 2010 at 10:31 am

        Any notification?

          Tami said
          January 19, 2010 at 10:33 am

          Got that one.

Sagan said
January 20, 2010 at 1:04 pm

“If you can’t tell a story in 500 words, you sure won’t do it in 500,000 words. Trust me.” So true.

Ah the joys of writing!

    Charlie said
    January 20, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    So, have you moved forward on any of your own writing?

Jason said
February 4, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Unveil now!