Three Dirty Birds are Plotting and Structuring their stories today, as we tackle James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-Editing for Publication.
Kate: This was a bit repetitive. I think every book or chapter on plot references Joseph Campbell. Having read Joseph Campbell, it’s not a bad structure ( and his book is pretty interesting, if I remember correctly, and if you have a thing for Roman and Greek mythology). Not so sure how well it applies to the romance genre, unless you’re writing romantic fantasy, or scifi, or maybe a thriller?
Zoe: I did skim the second half of the chapter, where he delved into the Hero’s Journey and other more structured stuff. But I found the first half of the chapter valuable, with his LOCK system, which is you need a Lead (protagonist) in whom the reader has an emotional rooting interest in and who has an inner conflict, and the lead needs an Objective/want that is so crucial to him/her that he must have it or suffer deep loss, and there must be opposition (“Confrontation”) to the lead’s objective, and a Knock-out ending.
Ana: Thanks for summarizing that, I kept getting confused by the letters he kept throwing in in between. (But then, I wasn’t at my most attentive while reading this. It’s not the book, it’s just me. I swear)
(Zoe: Yeah, reading that section, it was more of a LisliOCaK system. Which, it turns out, is fun to say out loud.)
Ana: I liked reading his other book. The ‘write your novel from the middle’ thing. I think that’s about all the plotting advice I can read without zoning out.
Zoe: I very much enjoyed that book. It was short, to the point, and jammed with useful info.
Kate: I’ve got his Plot and Structure book, but I haven’t gotten into it yet. I liked the section in this book about the patterns you can look for in plots. All those different categories. Which is probably just a sign that I need to pay more attention to keeping things organized and pointed in the right direction when I write. But if you have a certain kind of conflict, you need to keep things related to that conflict. (Which I don’t do very well at, at least until draft umpteen million.)
Zoe: That’s what drafts are for! I have to confess that I skimmed the plot patterns section too. “Not my story, not my story, not my…oh look, we’re up to the exercises again already.”
Ana: I thought those plot patterns only get interesting if you mix them up with each other. Like most my romance stories have a good chunk of what he calls the ‘change’ pattern.
Zoe: You did just make them more interesting for me. Thanks!
Kate: I just like to sort things. I’m a sorting kinda gal. “Oh, that’s what it really is!”
Zoe: As for the exercises, I may do number two sometime soon. I’ve always meant to see Sunset Boulevard. Now I have an excuse. (I’m also now eating chocolate. If anyone cares.)
Kate: Did you bring enough for everyone? I’m going to need it while I do exercise #1. (Because I really need to work on the TBR pile.)
Ana: Bad Kate. You’re supposed to reread a favorite, not take something from your TBR!
Zoe: I brought half a bag of Cadbury Christmas mini eggs.
Kate: Woohoo! Cadbury! Ana, I have to get the TBR mountain down, or I’ll someday be a squashed bird under its weight. (I’m sure that’s a French haute cuisine dish.)
Ana: And right now we’re three writers who can’t come up with a good ending line to this chapter… er… blog post.
Kate: Niiiice, Ana. Just tell on us, why don’t you?
Ana: I’m using self-deprecating humor to make my character more sympathetic.
Zoe: We’re under pressure from this chapter to provide a Knock-Out ending. I can’t work under pressure. Here, have more chocolate before I eat it all.
Kate: I’m done. I have chocolate.
Ana: You’re done? I don’t even get started before chocolate. I fear this is going to be an unsatisfying ending. A cliffhanger, maybe?
Kate: Maybe we’re in the wrong POV…
Ana: That’s foreshadowing! Okay, I can live with that.