Usually I don't have much trouble with plot. I have like, no shortage of issues and things to throw at my poor characters to keep them busier than I can handle. Now that I'm writing middle grade and downing the violence significantly, there's like ... not much happening. O.o
*is very weirded out by this*
(hush. weirded is totally a word.)
ANYWAY. So I'm cruising along (this is going somewhere, I promise.) and I'm trying to think of what I can add to spice things up. Because right now, I've got the characters. I've got the story world. I've got the premise, the magical idea that makes you squeal and giggle and blink butterflies of beauty and happiness.
But ... the plot. It's saggy. I've got a plot line sitting in the form of the Three Act Structure right now, and it's just ... missing something. And so I was surfing pinterest, looking for inspiration, for something to click in my brain and inspire me as to what I needed to add. A person? Another conflict thread? All the prompts on Pinterest are cool, sure, but ... they weren't what I was looking for. They're not making me ask the questions that will lead to the kind of answers I need. No matter what ideas I think of, it doesn't fill in that "Thing" that I'm missing.
So what questions do I need to be asking? That was what I needed to pinpoint, because Pinterest was failing me. #sorrypinterest
Anyway. I don't have it all together. But hopefully through writing this post, I'll inspire you and me to brainstorm a way out of this.
#1: Look at your inciting incident.
The inciting incident is soooooo important guys. If you don't know what this is, YOU NEED TO KNOW. LOOK IT UP. It's basically what sets your story into motion. It's that big THING that happens that disrupts the characters' normal world and sends everything into chaos. It's your story's hook. The concept. For instance, mine is, "A boy gets trapped in the world of dreams." BOOM BABY. In just nine words, I have a bunch to work with. Think about what would happen, and then what wouldn't happen. Keep asking "how" and "why". That deepens everything.
#2: Look at your characters' goals.
I have this weird habit of letting my characters accomplish the goal they had from the inciting incident halfway through the book, and then, in the course of them accomplishing the goal, they're given new goals. Halfway through the story. Not sure why this happens to me, but ... I guess I get tired of having the same goal for a whole novel?
I'm sure that concept has an official name. If you know what it is, TELL ME. I'm going to try not to do this ... eventually. But for now, yeahhhhh no. This kind of has to happen.
You need to make sure your character's external goal is big enough to encompass a whole book. My characters' goals are, "Find Jake" at first, and that is not a big enough goal to fill the whole book. Hence, the goal change midway through. The goal shifts: "Get back to reality." That's a bigger one which will last me to the end of the book. But you've got to make it difficult. It would be good to make lots of smaller ones too to help along the way. As obstacles arise, so will new goals. And goals drive the story.
#3: Don't forget structure.
Another reason why Pinterest wasn't helping me was because, though it game me lots of random ideas, that's all they were. They were not connected to the plot. Therefore, there was no structure to them.
They go to an underwater city? GREAT! Super cool and fun! But how does that help with my plot issue?
They get lost in a forest of clocks? YAYYYYY. Not really helpful.
I know a bunch of things that need to happen, but I don't know how they fit into the structure of the book. And that's really important. Each scene in a book needs to be meaningful in that it pushes the story forwards in some way. So when you're brainstorming ideas, look at your structure. If you see that you don't really have a climax at the end of Act 1, or that your Midpoint doesn't really change much, think of how you can up the importance there and add new elements to heighten their significance.
I hoped these might have given you some ideas?
Ehem. Anyway. Here's a picture of a turtle. Cause everyone needs a picture of a turtle in their life.
|he's judging you|
And now. You've probably been scratching your heads wondering, what does tea have to do with any of this? I SHALL TELL YOU.
Last year during nano, I had recently fallen in love with Vanilla Chai tea. It's just sooooo good. And so, every night when I went to my room to type away on my cheap walmart iPad keyboard, I would sit with a cup of that tea by my side and sip away as I typed.
I kind of fell out of the Vanilla Chai tea phase for a while. And then, a couple months ago, I saw a box of it sitting on my shelf and I though, Oh I haven't had that tea in forever! I'm going to make some.
And so I did.
And at that first sip, it was incredible. It was like someone had hypnotized me back to NaNoWriMo 2015. I was hit with the memories I made that November, and I was reminded of the beauty of writing the first draft of TC.
And so now, when I edit, when I do anything related to TC, I make a cup of Vanilla Chai tea.
I know you're all probably really confused right now, thinking, "But, coffee? Life blood? Every writer's life drink?" But I do pretty much all of my writing after 9 P. M. Sadly, coffee is not the best thing to drink before bed, and I'm a hard-core super strong fully caffeinated girl.
BUT MY POINT IS. I like to pick a tea. And then that tea is my 'writing tea.' But I make it specific for each project. Since I'm starting a new WIP soon that's completely unrelated to TC, I might have trouble transitioning between the two. So if I work on one this day, and the other the next day, I can make the tea for one this day, and then the tea for the other the next day to help get my mindset right.
Yah see what I'm sayin'?
I don't know if I made any sense at all but I'M TIRED AND I JUST THOUGHT IT WAS KIND OF COOL, OKAY?? *blinks hard and sips DW's tea since I'm brainstorming while blogging #likeaboss*
Oooh and DW's tea makes me happy cause I remember drinking it as a kid and loving it so it has nostalgic meaning to me already. So yeah, you should totally try that! It's fun and then your tea becomes special. :D
I'm pretty sure most of this post was incoherent rambling but I DON'T EVEN CARE OKAY. *slumps off to brainstorm and use this post for reference because I AM A MESS HELP*
What's your writing beverage? Do you struggle with plot? IF YOU WANT TO RAMBLE TOO, FEEL FREE. TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE STRUGGLING WITH IN WRITING/NANOPREP RIGHT NOW.