Three Dirty Birds on Plot

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Three Dirty Birds Plotting with Chuck Wendig…oh, wait, no, that’s Three Dirty Birds talking about what Chuck thinks about Plot.

Ana: Aw, man, I wanted to be plotting.

Zoe: I remember when I was a young writer, reading books about plot, and the concept just seemed really elusive to me. (Some of my reviewers might say it still does.) I often wish Chuck had been around when I was a young’un. But he would have been like fifteen or something, and I’m sure he had better things to do, like experiment with putting gross stuff in socks, at that time.

Ana: I guess I’m lucky I had the internet available with all its resources when I started writing. (seriously, anyway)

Kate: When I first dabbled in it, long before I ever thought of getting published, the only resources were few and far between, and didn’t make any sense to me at the time. I’m glad that there’s people who can put these concepts in plain language for new writers, so they didn’t have the trial-and-error slog I did. I eventually gave up, because I couldn’t figure out where to go for help, and only started writing again about twenty years later.

Ana: I figure before my birth I was probably waiting somewhere up in the ether going ‘Nah, I’m not gonna be born yet. No internet yet. Not worth it.’

Zoe: I think I over-complicated it. I mean, not surprisingly. I had books, entire books, about plot, so it couldn’t possibly be simple and straightforward like I was thinking it was!

Ana: Academia has taught me you can write a lot of pages about very little content….

Kate: Oh, yeah. I remember those days. i liked what he said in tip #5. Things get worse until they get better. That’s a tough one to do sometimes, especially if you want to write a sweet romance.

Ana: Even sweet romance needs conflict to be that much sweeter in the end.

Zoe: I like tip number 7, about what a character wants vs. what he fears. If he has to face what he fears to get what he wants, you get a lot of dynamic. It’s pretty much built in.

Kate: It was nice to be reminded of that. Sometimes you have an instinct about things, but can’t quite articulate it. I think Chuck does a good job of that.

Ana: It’s something to keep in mind. I liked how he said in tip #8: “An artificial plot is something you have to wrestle into place, a structure you have to bend and mutilate and duct tape to get it to work.” Whenever a story starts feeling like that to me I know I have to take a step back.

Kate: That kind of feeds into #9, where he talks about tension and recoil when your characters makes choices, and then suffer the consequences. Since a really good plot tends to be character driven, even when outside forces are acting heavily on it, this is a good thing to keep in mind. No matter what outside forces there are, it’s the character’s choices that drive the direction.

Ana: Yeah, and you have to keep asking yourself if your characters choices are really the choices they would make, or just the choices you want them to make because of your vision of the plot.

Kate: In which case, you either have the wrong characters, or the wrong plot. (I hate it when that happens, even though it usually means I’ve now got two stories for the price of coming up with one.)

Zoe: I really liked #21, where he says that “a big plot is in some ways just a lot of little plots lashed together and moving in a singular direction.” I think I’m going to put that on a sign today when I sit down to write.

Ana: It does seem to fit your Man Made Murder situation rather well.

Zoe: Please, Lord, let it help me get through that book. I hate when you have a story you love and want to tell, and it fights you the whole way.
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Kate: I often feel like there’s some piece I’m missing when a story does that to me. Like my unconscious knows something, but it can’t seem to spit the words out.

Ana: I felt that way about my novella for the past two weeks but now that I’ve figured out what I’m doing I can’t wait to get back to it.

Kate: I’ve been having the same issue with the squirrel. Now that I’ve figured out what was bugging me and not letting me move forward, I’m excited to get back to it. Once I finish Kev ‘n Mo.

I liked what he had to say about plot holes in the first #13, because I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Either you weren’t paying attention, or your plot is way too convoluted. But now that he’s said it, it makes perfect sense.

Ana: I think most of my plot holes are direct results of not sacrificing goats.

Zoe: Ha. Well, the goats are thankful for your plot holes. Mine are all “not paying attention,” but I cut myself slack (and fix the plot holes in future drafts), because you can’t pay attention to everything all at once.

Kate: #22 had a great title: Exposition is Sand in the Story’s Panties. I really don’t think you need to say any more than that.

Ana: I still have some sand in my feathers….

3 thoughts on “Three Dirty Birds on Plot

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