Wannabe Writers #22

by Madeleine Rex

Wannabe Writers is a fantastic weekly meme hosted by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-Published!

(I’m going to do away with the Current Problems section, as I usually cover those in my Writing Progress.)

Where I am in the Writing Process: I’m doing far better than I have the past couple of weeks, though that doesn’t entail much. I’m up to 22,425 words in The Lemonites, which is just past what I expect is the quarter way mark. I’m struggling a bit with connecting to my main character, Pepto, among other things (none of which are the plot, incidentally. Which is ironic because I haven’t plotted much at all), but my friend Miranda (who is awesome in many ways) is helping me out. (Psst. I got to read her new WIP and it is amazing. Just saying.) She’s grilling me with questions about my characters, and we’re weeding out some of the issues.

I’m looking forward to delving farther into this WIP, and I hope to be finished with the first draft by the end of July. I’m really busy the next couple of weeks, so my progress may be impeded a bit. Will see.

I haven’t begun working on Forbidden yet, but I got out of school a week from yesterday. My summer’s hardly begun. I’ll need to step it up, soon, however, because I foresee some serious plot tangles in my future!

The Question this Week: When writing how do you structure out your novel?  Do you use the classic method of intro, rising tension, mini crisis, rising tension, mini crisis, rising tension, climax, resolution?  Or some kind of alternative structure?

Goodness. How do I answer this question when I confronted my two WIPs in totally different ways?

In the case of That Boy in the Shed, I plotted like there was no tomorrow, and, consequently, there was a strong, formidable (as I realized later) structure. Every section of the story arc was built brick by brick by brick. Consequently, I knew precisely what would happen, be said, and be felt. In the end, however, this proved to be too much. Instead of propping my story up, I’d put it in a straight jacket.

I resolved to take a more laid-back approach. I’d actually begun writing That Boy in the Shed with the intention of learning how to plot specifically because I knew that Forbidden would require a strict plot and story structure. However, it’s become clear to me that particular types of stories call for a subsequent amount of plotting/structuring. Forbidden is some sort of mix between YA fantasy and horror, and, in my head, it’s the first of a trilogy. There’s an entire world to plot. Every scene must be laid out perfectly to ensure that I don’t give too much away too soon. Not to mention the fact that I have to plan how to stretch the story believably throughout three books while making sure that Forbidden can stand alone. Already, it’s clear that this project will be one that requires a lot of thought.

The Lemonites, however, is a totally different species of novel. It’s more laid back, and I can do a lot more in revisions, which means stressing over the plot less as I write the first draft. However, I know the story arc. I’ve written a synopsis. I’ve given the story support and an end to the beginning, but I have not forced it, struggling, into a straight-jacket.

So, in the end, I’d say that it’s crucial to evaluate what sort of story you want to tell. Judge wisely whether or not that story requires a strict whipping into shape or a lax, laid-back attitude. Which would make the writing more fun for you? Remember: You have to enjoy this sometimes, too!

4 Commentsto “Wannabe Writers #22”

  1. Good post! I like what you say about figuring out what each story needs as far as plotting, and enjoying the process is key!

  2. This is always an interesting concept in my book, as I am terrible at plotting. It sounds like you really have things figured out. I have the exact opposite problem of the straight-jacket thing; I often just let characters and dialouge take me where they may, which, although fun, is hardly plotting. Do you write out the main points of each chapter or of the MS as a whole? And how long is your initial plotting as compared to the thing actually written out?

  3. Good points! It's easy to forget that each work needs a different angle. I'm trying to figure out how to map out a novel from a short story I read. I think I'm probably dangerously close to the straight jacket. I'll have to keep your advice in mind.

  4. Isn't it amazing how we apply different approaches with our novels. I plan on approaching my second novel in an entirely different way than the first as well. I believe we learn as we go. Have a great week!

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