Confessions On “No Plot? No Problem!”
Amazon has good prices on most recommended books. Still, I go to The Book Exchange. Once, I darted straight to the Romance or Fantasy shelves. Now? I wander in the writing section. That was where I found Steven King’s On Writing, which left me speechless, no small trick.
My most recent sin?
Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem! He is one of the originators of NaNoWriMo. I had no idea who he was. I knew, vaguely, of NaNoWriMo. After all, anyone who haunts WordPress in November hears about it, constantly. Curious, I read it.
Chris writes in today’s easy, chatty style. My husband knew I liked the book because I kept laughing and reading it to him. I haven’t done that for a while. It took me only two days, opening it when I had nothing else going on. I’m happy I read it. Novice novel writers, like myself, would probably enjoy it.
Had I read his book even six months ago, he would have touched my writer’s soul. His “just write it no matter what” message would have echoed in my heart. Once, that was the only way I knew how to write. On one of those sites I’m ashamed to admit to, I churned out stories, posting them part by part, having no idea what came next.
I had fun, but….
What if I wanted to become a serious writer? If I trusted Blake Snyder and Jack Bickham, could I still write the way I once did? Would I outline first? What about character arcs? Would there be four parts? Would anything come together, irresistibly, in Part Four?
Reading “No Plot? No Problem!”, I recognized Baty’s four weeks of writing. Whether his readers know it or not, he was describing the four parts to the modern novel or movie. I’m certain this was intentional. That is one of the reasons his book reads so well, and allows the reader closure at the end.-
Which brings me to the next point he makes, near the end of the book. The NaNoWriMo approach produces a 50,000 word draft in 30 days. He warns the writer to set aside a year or more to edit the work.
Blake Snyder offers a completed draft in eight weeks, but gives no glimpse of what to do in those eight weeks. Nor does he forecast the time required to transform it into a high quality manuscript.
Another confession, officer. I wrote a first draft, Forbidden Footsteps, and I did it as a panster.
I took longer than NaNoWriMo…three months…but I finished.
I am ten weeks past the tears and fist pumping.
Now…do I let it rest in peace, or try to save it?
- No genre
- Not much of a plot
- No character development
- Not sure I even like my protagonist
- Her love interest leaves me cold
- Laughable scene construction
- Heroine gets saved, instead of doing the saving
- Some of it reads like porn
- Some of it reads like pretensions of literature
What a mess.
Fast forward to my current project, Blossoms In The Snow.
A scene from an old movie where the cute sister brings a group of Argentine sailors, none of whom speak English, to the apartment. Soon, rumba music is playing and a conga line starts following the serious sister around the apartment.
What if a woman flies into Denver, expecting to be picked up by her boyfriend for a 300 mile drive home, only to find herself snow-bound. What if three Brazilian sailors, only one of whom speaks English, befriend her and offer to buy her a drink. What if one thing leads to another and she will never see her absent boyfriend in the same light again.
Romance, but the characters are far from the perfect ‘what a woman really wants in a guy’ kind of story.
I know the four parts to the story, and have a pretty good idea what the Plot Points and Pinch Points are. I have Save-The-Cat and Whiff-Of-Death moments.
I have burgeoning character bible on Trish, our befuddled protagonist, and Sergio, one of the three sailors. I am working on Marcelo, and his relationship to his cousin, Sergio. Eduardo, from the slums of Sao Paulo, is still a mystery to me.
Actually writing it?
Maybe…I have upcoming family commitments this summer, and I don’t know if I have time to get a draft down before I have to stop.
So…the big questions about Forbidden Footsteps and Blossoms In The Snow.
Which story is easier to write?
Which story is easier to edit?
Which story turns has the better chance of being published?
Maybe I could self publish on Amazon’s Kindle.
I could join the bazillions of other writers posting every day.
I could charge 99 cents an episode.
Maybe I could earn enough to pay for the electricity my lap top eats.