Hear that wailing sound? That’s the sound of a writer in distress. Well, okay, not just any writer. Me.
As a newbie writer, I set off to write my story, knowing exactly what to do. Storytelling came easy to me at an early age and I excelled at it. As an adult, I figured it would be easy-peasy, because really, how hard is it to write?
Well, like most newbie writers, I learned how wrong I was.
When the time came for others to read the story and comment, I heard a chorus of: “Where are the sub-plots?”
“Sub-plots? I have sub-plots. There’s a, b, and c.”
“Nope,” the chorus told me. “Not there.”
“What do you mean they’re not there? Of course they are!”
“No,” they said again, “Don’t see them.”
These comments forced me to go back and review the elements of my stories, which made me realize something; they were right.
Although my sub-plots exist, they don’t emerge until the second half of the story leaving the entire first half missing any sub-plot. As I’ve learned, this makes the story one dimensional and ultimately very boring for the reader.
Two things happened next; first, I freaked out. This is a big “oops”, and the bigger the mistake, the bigger the clean-up. I’ve put too much time and effort into this project to give up, and yet, it seems parts need to be completely rewritten, which involves more work and more time. Discouraging doesn’t come close to what I felt. Hopeless may be a more appropriate word.
But then I did my homework. Some amazing people pointed me into the direction of Dan Wells and Seven Point Plot Structure. I also found Pixar’s story telling rules. Finally, I came across story board charts. So now, I’m going back and re-plotting. Each scene is being marked by character, plot progression and sub-plot. I’m making notes for additions/deletions to each scene. I’ve also made charts of each sub-plot to follow them from beginning to end.
Perhaps a little excessive, but it works for me. My work may need a rewrite, but with some careful planning and the proper tools, I’m hoping not to make a similar mistake the second time around.
That’s the synopsis of my “pit of despair” problem. As writers, everyone encounters them. They‘re just different for each of us. Though writers tend to be isolated, we’re not alone. There’s usually someone else wallowing in the pit to commiserate with and share the virtual bottle of wine.
But once the pity party is over, get back to it. If the finished work is the ultimate goal, a rough journey to get there will make the end that much sweeter.
At least that’s what I’m telling myself right now.