Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, I now have an excuse to expound upon my self-doubt without fear of reprisals! If you’d like to join us at the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, click on this linky, and prepare to meet some of the nicest writers on the web. We post on the first Wednesday of every month.
Today, I’m going to share something I’m worried I will never overcome. It’s this: I’m a horrible plotter, and even my characters are getting tired of my haphazard plotting. So fed up …well, how about I show you how fed up they are? Here’s how it went down …
My footsteps echo in the front hall of the Muse’s palace. “Muse?” I call. “You in here?”
“Over here.” His voice resounds on the stone walls. He’s in the library. Of course.
As I near the room, I hear whispered conversations, snatches of phrases like, “… tears of stars … walk in dreams … rock god …”
Then a loud ‘shhh.’
“What’s going on?” I ask as I enter. The lights come on.
Omigosh. The room is full of people I know, although I’ve never met them in real life. These are the people in my stories. Nick Moore from The Tempest’s Serenade stands near the front of the group, his arms crossed over his chest, watching my reaction with concern. On the opposite side of the group towers Teragus Swansong from The Whole of the Moon. The implacable steadiness of his golden eyes makes me shudder.
“Nick?” I ask, because he’s still the one I talk to most. “What’s going on?”
Nick takes a deep breath. The rest of the crowd has gone back to conversing amongst themselves. Rafael from Lost Wax, with Abigale wrapped in his arms, is exchanging Italian phrases with Noelle, the lithe ballet dancer from Constants, while Aiden, the numbers-addicted protagonist of the same story is immersed in conversation with Griffin of March, the gem collector and heir to the crown from Bridge of Light. Dr. Andria Morgan from my latest story–which doesn’t even have a proper title yet– looks forlorn as she stands off to the side. Despite the ill-fitting black Regulation uniform disguising her tiny frame, she has managed to attract the roving eye of Stuart Livingston.
“Who’s the new chick?” Stuart, Nick’s sidekick from Tempest’s Serenade, asks me.
Andria, with her as-yet-uncolored-eyes narrowed, faces him and answers, “I’m from her latest project— one that actually has a plot and an ending, I might add.”
“That’s what our Writer told me too when she started,” Rigel Mondryan from A Crown of Thorns sneers. “Just wait until she gets to the middle section. You’ll see. It’ll all fall apart just like it always does.”
Andria gives me a furtive look.“Hey, that can’t be true, our Writer has an outline this time—”
“Silence!” bellows Lord Swansong. He steps in front of the melee, his arms stretched wide. His son-in-law Rigel continues to bicker with Griffin of March until they come to some sort of agreement and break out in guffaws.
I spot the Muse sitting on a bookshelf high above the fray and hope he knew what he was doing when he put this gathering together. This many alpha males in one room can only lead to trouble.
Nick nods in acknowledgment as Teragus Swansong begins. “Writer, (because, to avoid confusion, all my characters simply call me Writer.) We’re here to stage an intervention.”
“An intervention?” I stammer. “For what? The hardest drug I do is coffee.”
I hear Stuart Livingston snicker. He jumps as his girlfriend elbows him in the gut.
Lord Swansong continues, “It has come to our attention that you are seriously deficient in the plotting department. We fear that you will never tell our stories properly.”
“I’m trying, really I am,” I reply. “I’m taking a revision course. I write every day. I read blogs.”
Rigel disentangles himself from his wife Cerule’s arms and stands. He’s wearing his crown, so I know I need to be careful what I say or he’ll be inside my head reading all my wicked thoughts. “Nick over there—” Rigel indicates the dark-haired, steely eyed protagonist of Tempest’s— “Tells me you’ve been agonizing over his story for years now. Don’t you think it’s time you figure out how to get it right and get on with it?”
“I would if I could, but a novel is so big, it’s hard to keep track of everything. I’m doing my best. Maybe I’m just not cut out to be a novelist— ”
Nick holds up his hand to stop Rigel from perturbing me any further. “I think she gets the point.”
Cerule Swansong, silent up to now, stands. She smiles at me. With her silver blonde hair and her graceful yet powerful motions, I can see why Rigel fell in love with her. “We only want to help you, Writer. It’s not just about us. It’s about you. We want to see you successful, perhaps even published.”
“That’s what everyone tells me.” I sink onto the chair that Nick has pulled next to me. “I just don’t know how to stop writing and plan something. You guys just spill out onto the page and I write and write and can’t stop–”
“Which is why we’re staging this intervention.” Libra Duvall, Nick’s mysterious Muse, has left her window seat to stand next to him. “We want to be read, Writer,” she says as Nick absent-mindedly strokes her long blonde hair. “It’s why we exist. But your stories need to make sense.”
Nick continues, “We have some ideas for you. To get you back on track.”
I scan the faces before me. Teragus, Rigel, Cerule, Stuart, Libra, Nick and all the rest stare back at me expectantly. Their fate lies in my hands. I feel so helpless.
“I don’t want to let you down,” I say. “But the only book about writing I’ve read is No Plot, No Problem.”
“Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered,” Nick says. “We picked out a few craft books for you.”
Aiden chimes in and stands, holding a stack of paperback books. “Here are a few to get you started. Writing the Breakout Novel , Story Engineering,” He winks. “A personal favorite.”
“Well, you’re the numbers guy, after all,” I agree.
“There’s more though,” Cerule says. “Techniques of the Selling Writer, Save the Cat.”
Abigale chimes in, “You’re going to love Bird by Bird!”
“And this one,” Rigel offers, “The Art of War for Writers. And Nail Your Novel. You loved Memories of My Future Life so I’m certain you’ll appreciate Roz Morris’s advice.
I hold the books in my hands, quite a stack, and see the concerned looks on their faces. “Wow, you guys are the best. I really hope I don’t let you down. Wish me luck.”
So, writers, any other suggestions to help me with my plotting woes? What’s your favorite writing craft book?
Images: rainbow of books courtesy of Emiliano Hernandez, talk bubbles courtesy of ‘miamiamia’, chairs courtesy of ‘deafstar’, all @ stock.xchng.