I’m taking off my pants because I’ve lost the plot

After almost a year of resistance, and a number of years pantsing, I decided to look into this plotting business. Why have I resisted for so long? You’ve probably heard the word organic when it comes to pantsing. I like to let the ideas flow naturally from page one and see where my characters take me, rather than suffer a structure. And hand on my heart, I was worried anything to the contrary would come across as contrived. It’s a harsh word and one that has plagued me. I’m a fairly stubborn person, and I guess I’ve stuck to these thoughts as a way of protecting myself from the truth: my MS needs a revamp, and it’s going to take some plotting research to do this.

I think if I were more experienced, I’d know how to wear my pants well and keep them on. If I’d read plotting books, looked into character development, or  had already written a book or two, I’d be well armed starting page one. All the critical elements would be top of mind as I forge on.

But I’m a green writer, whose pants need some readjusting. Starting from page one is not hard, but knowing where to take that plot is another story altogether – a story that may be a much harder sell.

So my green-writer status became obvious while thinking about how to change the start of my MS. If my MS is not being requested based on my query and  first few pages, then I assume both are letting me down. But to know where to start, I need to think about the plot. After reading some plotting material online and also Save the Cat by Blake Snyder ( and now First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke), I found that that my MS lacks depth. And to fix or analyse my plot, I need to know where my character begins on their journey, where they end up on their journey and how the plot will take them there.

For me, it’s helped to look at my story like this. MC is at point A and wants X. To get X, they must move to point B and the inciting incident helps them get there.

From here, I can write a query blurb and this should (hopefully) show that my book has conflict and growth. And I’m not going to write my new beginning until I can do just that!

Even armed with just those elements, I could have saved myself years. I was so scared of plot outlines because I thought I would have to write down every scene. But I haven’t beaten myself up too badly about this late revelation. After all, all of this makes sense because I have written my book and spent months and months researching querying. It would have been like picking up a book that helps you translate another language from English – when you don’t know English….

So this is where I am at: looking at my character and where they start their journey – what is the one thing they need to change to help them achieve their goals. It’s a tough one but a good question to ask, and a great place to start 🙂

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How do you take your protagonist? Grump, lump or shrew?

shrew

It’s been a couple of crazy weeks. I feel like I’m going crazy because, looking back, I don’t know what has taken up all my time. A voice whispers,” Or what you’ve achieved.” Maybe I am going crazy; I swear I’m hearing voices. Move along or I will start singing the first line of a song which my daughter will repeat over and over again, ten times louder than humanly possible. It’s your choice. I might even come with you.

I thought I’d take a break from the topic of book submissions. Now, you say it. Take a break from your book submissions. Thank you; I needed that push. If I had continued with book two and forged on – and not been discouraged by my fourth rejection – I would have written almost 3/4 of book two. That just goes to show how much time it takes to sell a book. That’s a fun fact that certainly helped me sleep last night. I’m really glad I did the math. Math is bad.

Crazy. Normally, it’s just the way I like it. I mean, of course all my characters are based on Disney characters…. You mean the secondary, insane ones, right? No? Oh, well not so much…

It surprises me when I read secondary characters who intrigue me more than the protagonist. Why is the primary character more neutral when you know the author has it in them to spice up the pages with more colourful characters? Is it intentional?

I can be reading a scene  with my favourite secondary character who is all wit and grit, and they leave. No!!! Wait! Come back! Don’t leave me with this person! We don’t have anything to talk about. It’s like me in a room full of…anybodies!

Why can’t our MC have the characteristics of those secondary? Is it because they have more impact, the less we see of them? Quality vs quantity.

I know that we make secondary colours by mixing primary colours. Is this why? We have a greater range of colours to play with, if we stick to drawing from primary colours?

In my personal experience, as a reader of first-person pov’s, if you don’t connect with the MC,  there is nowhere to hide. If you read a striking, over-bearing, sassy loud mouth, then there is a greater risk of the reader saying – Woah, that is way too much. Where’s the exit? There is none? No matter, I’ll just punch through this wall.

So, this is your shrew. You touch her politely on the arm to ask if she has the time,  and she smashes your face in for the audacity. And sometimes, if the author isn’t careful, it feels like you’re reading the book in CAPS LOCK. Writing in Caps is a sure-fire way of getting up people’s noses. I love a bit of fire, me, but I need a little grump, too: sarcastic, sardonic and dry.  A grew ( grump-shrew), if you will. I think there is a main cartoon character called Gru. Not Disney though, so I’m still on track with the comparisons.

Who is the lump? There is no lump; it just worked with my title  – rhyming with ‘one lump or two’. I have given many 5 star ratings for books headlining neutral characters who come across as quiet and submissive: a nice, unassuming character who goes with the flow. The only grievance I have is when they suddenly act of character and become all ‘chinny’ ( imagine Keira Knightley becoming indignant), and I wonder how they suddenly became so feisty.

For me, I like my protagonists feisty, dry and consistent. A grew. You?