Good morning and welcome to Chaos Theory of Writing. Our guest today is Mary Buckham, co-creator of Break Into Fiction. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary when she presented a workshop I attended several years ago. I was so impressed with her workshop that when we developed Romance University, she immediately went on my list of possible visiting professors.
Mary is here today to discuss potential plot problems.
Creating a novel-length story requires compiling a huge amount of information from character development to the final resolution. Every writer has his or her own way of pulling all of that together to end up with a book, but regardless if you are a pantser or a plotter there are certain elements in all commercial fiction.
There’s no way I can take you through all the levels of Character-Driven Plotting in one blog article, so I’d like to go over some of the biggest problems or issues I see in our Plot YOUR Book in 2 Days Retreats attended by new writers and mass market published authors.
All writers get excited about a story because of something that ignites an original idea or a scene they envision or a character talking to them. That’s great. You need to hold onto what excites you about the story. New writers and published authors run into similar problems, but for different reasons. A newer writer may not be familiar with all the components of a compelling story as they are often still going through the initial learning curve. A published author is very aware of what is necessary, but does not recognize when a story is lacking those components – how to find plot holes.
Trouble shooting a novel length commercial fiction story and rejection letters:
- The infamous “sagging middle” indicates a lack of plot, lack of turning points, lack of stakes rising and possibly a lack of character development.
- A rejection that says “Interesting story concept but I didn’t connect with the characters” means character development is lacking.
- A rejection that says “…not big enough to be single title” may indicate a large enough premise for a single title but what you consider subplot is not significant to the central story line.
How do you find these holes? A good place to start is with the character to see if he/she is truly motivated or just “doing things the author needs them to do.” Or, ask yourself if your character’s external goal is really strong, or worthy of an entire book.
Another problem we see often is that the central character(s) don’t really accomplish anything or move the story forward – they just go from one non-escalating action to another that has no true impact on the story.
No author intentionally creates plot holes or scenes that don’t work hard enough. The best way to locates problems with the plot or characters is to ask a more experienced writer or find an instructional program that will show you how to recognize weaknesses. If that is not available that one thing you can do on your own is analyze each scene to make sure that whatever action is happening in your story impacts the external plot line or the internal growth. In the strongest stories, the action impacts both.
So, what stumps you when it comes to plotting?
FOR THOSE WHO POST A COMMENT TO THE BLOG TODAY YOUR NAME WILL GO INTO A DRAWING FOR A COPY OF THE Break Into FictionTM BOOK OR ONE-ON-ONE HELP WITH A QUERY LETTER – YOUR CHOICE!
Thank you, Mary! Be sure to join us on Monday when Tracey talks with author Sally MacKenzie about the agent/author relationship.
Award-winning author Mary Buckham met her Break Into FictionTM co-author, Dianna Love while teaching online and at live workshops across the country. As relatively new authors who can appreciate the mountain of resource books needed to learn the craft, they used their analytical skills to assimilate a program where writers could immediately apply new information learned to their own stories. This program is called the Break Into FictionTM Template Teaching Series. For more information, go to http://www.breakintofiction.com/ . For more information about Mary’s live and online workshops as well as her manuscript evaluation services visit http://www.MaryBuckham.comand sign up for the FREE newsletter for writers!
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- Straight Talk from a Librarian
- Category, Single-titles and Plot Structure, Oh, my! by Adrienne Giordano
- Mary Buckham presents: What is ACTIVE SETTING and Why it Should Matter to YOU!
- The Plotting Wheel