Thursday, June 28, 2012

Foibles of Plot Straightening

This weekend I finally did what I kept meaning to do (months ago). I upload my trilogy into Scrivener. Yes, they are now all in the “Book with Parts” template. I did this because I’ve become very aware that my plot needs work. Book 1 doesn’t really contribute much to the overall story and no one gets anywhere near death...

(Okay I do kill off one of Phoenix’s scouts and one of Griffon’s scouts, but Sarah didn’t witness it because she was out for the count. Still, it’s more romance than action/adventure while the other two are a much better mixture.)

Anyway, once I had the three books all in one place, I began to split apart the chapters. I did this for Book 1, since it has so few and then I went looking at Book 2. Splitting off the beginning of Book 2 and adding it to Book 1 does an amazing remedy for the lack luster plot. Now there’s a climactic fight scene, in which a villain dies after mortally wounding the Heroine. Of course I’ll need to edit it a bit, since it needs make you want to read the next book, not the next chapter.

So, I moved on to Book 2 and stopped to ponder something. No villain dies in this one, though our Heroes manage to save the Royal family. I read some place that a villain, even if he’s not the main boss, should die. So do I make up a villain to die in it, or make it seem like the villain is dying? Or leave it as is?  I’ll have to come back to that question later*, since the ideas is to get down what I have, not what I will have. I did decide that leaving the book off with our Heroes in a coma wasn’t nice, so I move some of the beginning bits from Book 3 over.

I haven’t started on Book 3 yet, aside from moving the beginning bit over, but I know one thing for sure; the climax doesn’t happen as close to the end as it should. There’s a lot of winding down the killing of the Master mind Villain to the marriage of our Heroes. I’m contemplating turning that into Bonus Book 4, for those who really want to see them happily wed and bed (and no I don’t go into details, thank you very much). *giggle*

One of the things I’ve suddenly realized. Having looked at all this – my Phoenixes of Vervell Trilogy need a lot of work. And I’m suddenly wondering:
  • Should I consider them to be my practice novels and shelve them for eternity? (Be still my beating heart! Breathe my hyperventilating lungs!)
  • Should I shelve them for now, until I’ve learned more about plot and structure? (But it’s already been at least five years since I wrote the first book!)

No matter what option I go with, and I lean toward the second for I love Sarah and Hasón and their tale, I’ve come to realize:
  • I’ve gotten pretty good at creating characters. I’m not an expert, but the ones I have been working with for a while are living beings in my head.
  • I could use a hand with plot and structure, perhaps with some practice in pre-plotting given how discombobulated last year’s NaNovel went. (Not that I’ve bothered to read it since then)

NaNo! Why that’s only four months away *gulp* and I plan on participating *double gulp* But I think I know what I’m going to do...
  • Buy “Save the Cat” and read it – several people have said it’s great for helping pantsers plot
  • Pick a story to plot - Alethia’s Lament? Rainbow Island? Another story off my hard drive? Something completely new? – yikes, this’ll be the hardest bit!
  • Tell you all about it! (So erm... what would you like to know about my process leading up to NaNo?)

:} Cathryn
P.S. And what would you think if I slowed down my posting rate - this posting weekly is taking too much precious writing time at the moment. *sigh*


  1. I never got on well with Scrivener or similar because I am the sort of person who starts from the beginning and writes until I reach the end. Also, if I have to rewrite, I tend to rewrite the whole thing. It's easier. So reordering chapters was never going to work for me :)

    I would say - but feel free to ignore me - that you might want to write something else for a while, and then come back to it. My general rule is that in between each fresh draft of a book I have to draft another book - whether that means first-drafting something new or editing something old. That way, each draft is written after I've gained an additional novel's worth of experience. (And means I have a LOT of first drafts lying around.)

  2. I can't be bothered with Scrivener - I'm sure it would just confuse me, because I'm useless with new things like that xP - so I shall just put bookmarks in my Word Documents at all available points so that I know where to find things xD

    As for NaNo ... PLOTS! PLOTS EVERYWHERE! I think I'll be taking Scatterank out for its long-delayed walkies, but we'll see how that goes ... I think Trinity might murder me if I ignore him any longer though ... and that won't be pretty ...

    Post when and as you like, I say. If you don't enjoy it, no point in doing it.

  3. @Miriam - Well apparently if you do the setting right, you can do that. But the nice feature is the whole ability to plot, I think. I figure I ought to try.

    As to coming back to it. I have tried that. I wrote the mess that is the Neuri during Nano and thought I could come back. the problem is I can't seem to get the story line out of my head and thinking of ways to improve it.

    @Charlie - The things is with books in word documents is if you ever want to electronically publish it you have to jump through hoops to get it done. Of course I'd be willing to help with that, as I'm sure I could figure it out with all the information available.

    Yes, I need some plots - I have characters everywhere, and a few potential plots, but I can't get Phoenix out of my head long enough to work on any of them. Even while reading "Save the Cat" I'm taking notes on Phoenix.

    @Both of you - :} - Anyway I think I need to use Scrivener from step one of a story rather than from taking something I've already done. I figure trying out a different technique - plotting and giving myself the potential to write out of order - isn't a bad thing. At least I'll know if it worked or not.

    If I can get Phoenix out of my head long enough... can I rewrite book/part 1 fro NaNo? :}