A Year in the Life: Week Six


I am too busy writing this week to do a decent YitL post, honestly. By the end of today I will have 40K under my belt in the past 11 days, and after that I’m going on a writing retreat with a theme of Surrender The Manuscript.

This is how that has been going:

Last Monday I got started on MOUNTAIN ECHOES, book 8 of the Walker Papers. “Got started” means I re-read the first 3 chapters and the synopsis, and while the chapters were fine, I thought, “Wow, this synopsis *really* sucks. *Really* sucks. There are major problems with it.”

And then I started to write. And something happened far earlier in the writing than it happened in the synopsis, and I thought, “That’s probably not a bad thing, because the synopsis is so awful,” and by that time I was starting to suspect what was wrong with the synopsis. And then I got stuck, because I had neither a functional synopsis nor, as it turned out, a plot, which was the real problem with the synopsis to begin with. *Lots* of emotional stuff to get through, but the thing I’d propped up as a plot…sucked. It was not plot-like. It was flaily and ugly and would not drive the story in any useful or meaningful way.

So I did what I usually do when my plot comes up dry, which is go out to dinner with my husband and say, “Help!” And after a very nice dinner, I have quite a lot more plot than I did–enough to get me far enough into the book that the rest of the plot bits we talked about will probably start falling into place–and I don’t even think it requires dumping any of what I’ve got written…because for the first time in the history of ever, I not only noticed, but accepted, that I was lacking a plot before I was even a fifth of the way into the book, and moved to fix it before I had to throw away thirty thousand or more words.

I am hoping this is a good sign for the future, though I won’t know until I get there, of course. It may just be I’ve got such a short deadline on ME at this juncture that I recognized I was in no position to screw around being Artsy and Not Understanding My Muse or whatever such crap would apply here, and just got on with it. But experience tells me that usually once I’ve recognized a problem like this early on and dealt with it, doing it again in the future is a lot easier

(After posting “have found the missing plot” on Facebook, one of the many people who “liked” the comment was my Walker Papers editor. I thought that was pretty funny. :))


6 comments to A Year in the Life: Week Six

  • That’s cool to hear you figured out the plot problem after complaining about it, Catie. I’ve done that before. My husband and I call it bitchcraft. 😉 Alas, it only works if I’m not trying to do it intentionally …

  • I am so so so SO glad that an author of your level sometimes has flailing plotitis! I’m sure it wasn’t fun while it happened, but it gives me hope that next time I have it I can talk myself out of it ;).

    Thank you for a fun and insightful (and hopeful ;)) blog! I’m glad you found it finally though.

  • Mikaela

    …. I really don’t want to think about how much you will write during the retreat, Catie. Especially considering that I *know* you have written close to 15 k in the last three days.

    But I am glad that you have your plot. :). Which is more than I have. Oh, I know what the story is about, and what will happen. I have no idea how it will happen. *pauses* Maybe I in fact have an idea. But it will not be easy. Which is probably a good thing since this is the last part of the draft.

  • Oh, Marie, it happens all the time. *Believe* me, you are not alone. Not at all. 🙂

  • Catie, one of the many things that I adore about you is your honesty. I do tea with writer pals when I need to figure out a plot problem. We call it polting… Because I can’t spell. 🙂

  • LOL! Thanks Catie, I’m going to post that over my monitor ;).