So many times, we newbie writers read a book on the craft only to be punched in the gut by how much we still have to learn.
I'm here to tell you that isn't always the case.
I mentioned in a past IWSG post that I thought I might be one of those writers for whom plotting comes naturally. Now I'm almost sure that's true. I still have a lot to learn where fiction writing is concerned—plotting included—but when I finally forced myself to read a book on the subject (I've had an aversion to studying this aspect of the craft - what can I say?), I was pleasantly surprised by how close my story came to the ideal plot structure touted by the author.
The book I'm referring to is Save The Cat by the late Blake Snyder. Blake was a screenwriter, and his book is about writing and selling screenplays, but some of the information can be applied to writing fiction as well—especially the outline Snyder refers to as a 'beat sheet.'
About half way into Save The Cat, Mr. Snyder explains the basic must-haves of story structure and how they should be arranged. He says one should end up with 40 scenes divided into 4 rows (quarters of the story, basically), and that certain things should happen at certain points.
By the time I read his book, I had written nearly half of my HR, Come Back, and plotted the whole thing except for a few details at the end. Since I wasn't getting much writing done with the kids home all day long on summer vacation, I spent some time jotting notes about my story onto a 'beat sheet' outline to see if my plot points lined up with his.
Lo and behold, they did! A few parts needed tweaking, but it was as if I'd been following STC all a long. I was amazed.
I took it a step further and made plot cards—pink for my heroine's POV and blue for my hero's. (Come Back is written in third person multi.) I numbered them and laid them out in the four rows he suggests. And check it out...
They almost came out even. The rows consist of 12, 11, 9 & 11 cards respectively. I was dancing around the room at this point. :D Seriously! I had been in a place where I was doubting my writing bigtime. This was a much-needed boost to my self-esteem.
I love these cards because they are way visual for so many things—but one thing you can't see with them is scene length, which translates into word count. My scenes range from a page or two into the teens. Still, I'm finding as I write that this aspect is working itself out, too.
If you're looking for some serious plotting inspiration, check out Save The Cat. Some of the information won't apply to novels, but the parts that do can give you some incredible ah-ha! moments. ;)
How are things going with you?
Are you struggling and in need of encouragement?
Have you found any helpful aids?
Have you had a boost to your writer's mood lately?
Tell us about it!
Tell us about it!