Friday, March 17, 2023

Adventures in Plotting | Suspended in the Stars

 As I mentioned in this post my book Suspended in the Stars (which I blogged here during August 2020) was really only half way finished when I hit the end of August...but it was at the "end" of my plot. 

I thought it might be interesting for writers to see some of how I combatted that odd plot format to get the book from where it ended (50,000 words) to where it is today (108,000 words). 

(Couldn't find attribution on this)

I've long had this graphic stuck to my desktop screen for "just in case" moments when I'm plotting and need a refresher. I've somewhat changed how I attack plotting now, and don't use this one as much (another post on this maybe?), but I do remember referencing this when I first plotted out the 30 days of August (2020) and how I was going to structure the book I wanted to write in a month.  

Live on Kickstarter until March 31

I made a solid plan - every chapter (one released each day) furthered the plot and I made sure to end each chapter with a bit of an exciting cliffhanger so that people would want to come back the next day. That's how we roll, folks. 

But what happened when I got to the end and realized that was my MIDWAY point, not my END??? 

I went back to the drawing board. 

The thing with midpoints is that, per James Scott Bell, they are "a moment in a scene that reveals the heart of a story". When I stepped back from Renner and Talie's story, their romance being a central part of the plot, seeing them "together" at the midpoint (don't worry, this isn't too spoilery) was right as much as it was wrong. 

Let me explain...

Your midpoint really needs to be the time when your character(s) stop, face themselves, and the reader senses a shift in them. It's why it's also called the "mirror moment". Often times this is accomplished by the character going from inaction to action. 

The boy stops thinking the girl is cute and decides to act on it to ask her out. 

The couple chasing down a serial killer, playing it safe and getting nowhere, finally decide that drastic action--using the woman as bait--must be taken.

Without going into too much detail so as not to spoil the book, I needed to shift my ending to a midpoint. I need to take that "resolved" feeling and move it to a "now what happens" focus. 

This was hard for several reasons. One being that I'd spend all this time up until that point convincing the reader that THIS WAS IT! This was the moment they were waiting for and we we're near the end. 

Me to the reader now...

Two being that I felt like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. How would people feel if I changed things about the story after they had read it? Would they understand? Would they be mad? Would they like it better?

After much shifting and, yes, rewriting, I was able to make that midpoint scene much more convincing as a midpoint, which helped lead us into what became the second and third acts of the story. 

What would I do differently next time? 

First of all, I don't think I would have called it a novella to begin with. I thought I was going to write 25-30k in a month which would mean 1000 words a day (or per chapter really). Nope. I'm just too wordy for that, especially for a book/plot/characters I really loved. 

Second, maybe I'd do nothing differently? I know, that's not a great answer, but in all reality the story came out how it needed to and, when I looked back at it, it wasn't so much that I needed to add in a ton to the first part. I just  needed to tell the rest of the story. 

Lastly, I'd realize going into edits that it's okay to make changes. I was so worried about everyone else (for a while, at least) that I was afraid to shift things until I realized that those changes were only going to make the story stronger. 

What about you? If you're a writer would you try to blog a book in a month? 

If you're a reader, would you enjoy something like this ^? 

Don't forget - you can support this project on Kickstarter until March 31st!

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