Spicy foods and I have a longstanding relationship of unrequited love. See, my husband loves spicy foods, even if it burns his throat all the way down. It’s amazing he is still able to talk and breathe. There is nothing too spicy for him.
Me, on the other hand, I loathe spicy. As you can imagine this brings about some mischievous opportunities for my husband to slip a bit of spicy into my food. Don’t even mention the word wasabi.
I don’t like bland either. The whole vanilla frenzy never was my thing. Most of us like more flavor in what we eat. Readers are much the same about what they read. Vanilla can put them to sleep or even inspire them to find a better novel, discarding ours altogether.
In novels a vanilla plot is basically a story that may have been done before, or is so straight forward that it lacks the unexpected surprises readers love. Our stories need to have a spicy hot plot that keeps the reader guessing.
Tips To Identify A Vanilla Plot:
*Investigate the Market. If there are several books out there that are similar to yours, yours must have a big variation, or it runs the risk of being vanilla.
*No critique buddy surprises. When you are working on your novel, you should be asking your critique buddies if anything surprises them in what they’ve read. If not, you are running the risk of a vanilla plot.
*You aren’t excited about what you’ve written. If a writer is not excited about what they have written, who else is going to be? Probably no one. Lack of enthusiasm flows through your words onto the page.
*Predictable character decisions. Write down the major dilemmas that your hero or heroine have had to face. Then write down the decision of action they took. Poll your friends and see what they think is going to happen next with the character. If they can guess, you might want to change it up a bit. Especially, if they can guess them all.
*Nothing new to you in the story. Readers love to find out some new detail about something they didn’t know before. If you have nothing like this in your novel, you run the risk of being vanilla.
*If by reading the basic premise, your critique buddy already knows where it will end. In a romance, we know that the leads will end up together, but there should be some other unexpected journey pieces that land them at the happily ever after. If you don’t have a surprise ending, then you’d better have a surprising journey.