So, how’s the book coming?
My Work-in-Progress is part one of a planned trilogy. I have a rough draft completed and so much research it boggles the mind. But I’m not happy with the story. I started out telling one story then wandered around, chased ghosts, fell down rabbit holes, changed my villain then changed him back until I finally said ENOUGH. What this book needs is a clear idea of where it is going.
It was time to learn story structure.
As I have said before, in the world of plotters versus pantsers, I have previously been a trouser-wearing writer, flying by the seat of my pants, writing to see where things led me. They led me on a wild goose chase, and it was time to take change that.
So for the past month or so, I have been on a journey, teaching myself how to structure a story, how to plot and plan. I have flipped things around and done them in the right order (this is not the first time I’ve approached something backwards and probably will not be the last). I have read four books to help along this endeavor:
Save the cat (by Blake Snyder) is a book about screenwriting, but I found it to be an engaging read and extremely helpful. The only downside about this book is that it will be difficult to watch a movie or television episode without noticing its structure points. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself yelling “hook” or “inciting event” while watching. But seriously, I learned so much from this book and used its methods to create my beat board.
Take Off Your Pants (by Libbie Hawker) Hawker gives a step by step approach which I tried to follow with mediocre results. I learned a lot about characterization, character arc and theme in this book as well.
A quick search on Amazon showed that there are many more to choose from, and I am beginning to think that I could turn reading books about writing into a lovely procrastination technique. But I digress. Mostly, these books all said the same thing in slightly different ways. I read, took notes, wrote out a few scenes to see how they would fit (okay, you’ll never get me to lose my pants-approach completely) and thought and thought and thought.
Here is the fruit of my labor, so far:
My beat board, or a bunch of index cards taped to the dining room wall. There are a few gaps and a few unknowns left to solve, but I feel like I have a much better handle on my story structure and thus, on my story. And the weirdest part is that I am back to telling the story I originally planned to tell. The story is smaller, compact, less gimmicky and more focused on the actual history. I am back to where I began: these historical things happened and I want to know what could have caused them and what were the people like who lived them?
So now I’m at a juncture or a launching pad. It’s time to take my plot structure and my draft and reconcile the two. It’s time to do the hard work and I’m resisting. Right now there is still hope, the perfect book is still out there waiting to be grabbed or wrestled into shape. But I’m afraid that the moment I start reaching for it, it will scoot just out of my reach, the ever elusive story.
Well, it’s time to stop procrastinating and start working. Send encouragement. Send coffee and chocolate. I’ll be the one trying to convince myself that I have what it takes to tell Robert’s story. Write on.