Have you ever had a plot take on a life of its own? You started down the path of story world with the best of intentions only to discover your plot soured and you’ve lost your way?
This can happen to the Seat-Of-The-Pants writer and the Careful Plotter as well. I land somewhere in the middle of those two and call myself a Purposeful Pantser. But whatever method you use to write, it can be sabotaged by a plot gone rogue.
Most plots can be salvaged if you don’t mind doing the painful work of cutting out the stray pen strokes that don’t belong in the masterpiece.
How To Salvage A Plot Gone Rogue is essential to meeting deadlines and avoiding writer’s block.
How To Salvage A Plot Gone Rogue Part 1:
*Identify your own personal weaknesses.
If you’re a Seat-Of-The-Pants writer, it may be a story structure break or a side track a character took that wasn’t helpful to the plot.
If you’re a Careful Plotter, the plot may be too predictable, have missing conflict pieces, or borders on episodic.
Possibly the underlying agenda of the story has taken over the plot, hiding tension from the reader.
Being honest with yourself is the first step in finding a solution. Identifying what you struggle with can help you salvage your plot.
*Revisit your story structure spine.
Writing mentor Susan May Warren has taught me how to develop the spine in my novel, regardless of my writing style.
It must start with a character’s belief in a lie that drives their decisions. When sent on a noble quest, they change and grow. For tips on story structure/spine, check out: How To Create Believeable Character Change and How To Ramp Up The Conflict Idea Sparking Style. You can also check out the category Plot Development in the side menu.
If you’re looking for in depth information a great resource is My Book Therapy.
*Make sure your plot is not episodic.
Television series are created in episodes. Each episode can stand alone, but there’s still an overarching theme or character’s story line that last for several seasons.
Novels must avoid interior stand alone plots, but strive to be about the overarching story.
A character’s noble quest may be to find their mother’s killer like Kate Beckett in the show Castle. But solving a murder in every chapter as they get closer to finding the answers to the overarching theme would most likely feel episodic. It allows the reader to walk away.
Instead try placing a hero/heroine on the job, while their life experiences are leading closer to the end goal. The noble quest must have conflicts on the path that escalate very clearly, until all is revealed and the character overcomes their greatest fear.
Next Tuesday I will share How To Salvage A Plot Gone Rogue Part II.