Plots 101 with an excellent example of what NOT to do.
There is a fight in writing that came with NaNoWriMo’s existence. [NaNoWriMo and its good vs its bad is another post not the least the very stupid motto “The World needs your novel” and most find, sadly, the world don’t give no dang rats ass about your book. Even the pros know this. NaNoWriMo lies to you on so many levels it might as well be your ex.]
Pantsing vs Plotting. The idea that you sit down and just write out the story by organic flow is pantsing. It’s the Artsy Fartsy method. I am a writer. What I write is what the book should be because it is a pure product of my little [very little] brain. And frankly how you end up with 14 pages of the car trip to the damn store to buy a damn cell phone none of it containing a damn thing about a plot or anything important to the story. Your reader will fall asleep, burn the book, delete it, or curse your name for eternity. Trust me. We all do that with bad books. It’s how you get jumps. The car trip to the wild party on Friday night with some new characters the reader has NO damn idea about but somehow they seem important. Or the story drags painfully with disconnected scenes that do nothing for the story.
Yeah, you can pants but really, do you want to try to edit something like a story out of that glob of crap you just spewed out? You now have to find pacing, a plot or goal for the character to strive toward, you have to figure out where and when the character makes progress or not toward the goal or climax… I heard tires screech. Okay. Wait. Back up. HEY GUESS WHAT? It is the dreaded plot that a pantser tries to avoid. It just arrived. Yep. Can’t avoid it. Whoops. Now take that 150,000 words of wonderful pantsing, superimpose a plot on it, edit the hell out of it, strip it to at THE MOST 100,000 words [honestly? You won’t find an editor at that either. It needs to be around 85000 give or take but I’m being nice here…] Good luck. God bless. Have fun. Or shove it in a drawer and forget about it. Your choice.
Bluntly, NO ONE wants to hear you ramble for 150,000 words. The industry standard is 250 words to a page. That’s 600 pages of pure unadulterated rambles. Nope. Not happening. Sure you can publish it yourself but you won’t be able to give the shitting thing away. Hell, the pirates won’t even steal it.
Reality sucks doesn’t it?
The thought that plotting is sitting there and writing out each damn scene until you reach the end is wrong. It can be writing out each scene but it just be a rough idea of where you want to go. I went into Standing Stone with a such a plot.
A plot can be very simple or very complex. Cannell wrote his plots out in detail. It was almost the book then he went back and filled in. Mine are much more simple.
Here is an example of one plot: MCs meet. MCs each have a “ghost” that haunts them. After a struggle, MCs get together. [aw happy happy] Ghost 1 shows up and throws relationship into mess. [Aw shit] MCs handle Ghost 1 [aw happy happy.] Ghost 2 shows up [worse than Ghost 1 now not only relationship in danger but life in danger] [BIG AW SHIT] Climax with Ghost 2 and issue. Question will the relationship survive even after Ghost 2. Handle after effects caused by #2 and cement or break up relationship. Ending [together or apart].
You just got a fast Romance plot. Can things change-up or be added or taken away? Yepper. Can character reactions change? Yepper. Thing within that plot can change because of characters and their actions or reactions. Hey done properly, your 3D characters will throw ringers at you all the time and you’ll be sitting there saying “Where the hell did that come from?” It is the nature of the beast. BUT at no time will you be there with a huge mess at the end going “Now What the Fuck?” and having to create a plot out of crap.
I had crap because some stupid nitwit tried to change the original plot and redo the book when he realized he was writing a Romance not a Mystery. It’s a Romance. I hate it but that is what it is. That’s what Joe and Will want and they demand.
I did tell you they throw ringers at you. It’s faster if you shut up and listen to them. Do not try to force them into what you want. Go with the damn flow. You try to force them and everything shuts up. There is a word for that. “Writer’s Block” aka “Freakin’ idiot Writer won’t listen to us so there…”
Plotting is NOT forcing them. Get that out of your Artsy Fartsy head. It gives them a path, then they get to do what they are gonna do.
You want to see an example of what happens when you pants or don’t know where the hell you are going? Watch Rizzoli & Isles, show that aired last night in the USA. The Imitation Game. The title suits. It imitates writing. It isn’t writing. It’s badly done and crashes and burns at the end. Bad. Real bad. Writer’s nightmare shit. https://www.primewire.ag/tv-354600-Rizzoli-Isles/season-6-episode-4 [use FireFox or Chrome with Adblock, popup installer, and Ghostery installed for ad free viewing. Pick the link with the highest views and the largest number of high ratings. IF you see only 1 rating be leery. O ratings is at your own risk.]
Now that we trouble shot that… Watch it. Then watch it again and look for the problems. IF you are ready to write a book, you should see them or at least some of them.
The story crashes and burns at the end. Which parts have absolutely NO reason to exist besides amusement. Everything in a show or a book needs to lead you to one of two things: The story arc for the season or the plot of the show. You don’t stick shit in there to just have a wild party. That’s why they say “Kill your Darlings”. There is a big one in there that simply rehashes old history.
The FBI character is under utilized. Badly done when utilized. And the scenes are awkward with no driving action. He sort of plays the God in the Machine and gets her out of shit when she hits a dead-end. He serves no other function.
The entire story stays flat and does the absolute unforgivable. They toss in a character as a solution at the end with NO interaction for this character except the chase. We never see this character [dead doesn’t count. Climbing on a plane for Rio doesn’t count. A picture on a board doesn’t count.] We were never aware of him until the end. They give us a Red Herring in the art director. Which is okay IF YOU HAVE INTRODUCED the real bad guy BUT the bad guy is no where in sight for almost the entire show.
The story arc is Angela hiding her boyfriend. It’s getting damn old and is played for comic relief instead of being a meaningful arc. The entire arc is not portrayed strong enough to carry the season. Nor is it strong enough to carry a series. It’s extremely weak even as a single episode. If you were playing it as light comic relief, it works. It doesn’t work as the major component of the episode.
Why is Frankie even in the story? I mean seriously? Why? Yes, it’s funny. It’s a DARLING scene. What did I tell you about Darlings?
The end has them standing around looking like 2nd graders in a play. Here is what this is. We all make speeches about Thanksgiving and we all take a bow so our parents can clap. Uh… okay? You do NOT do a Climax like that. NEVER. I will find you and hurt you. The Gods of writing [screen and novel] will find you and send you to Eternal Damnation on the rocky fields of broken typewriters. Your muse will run screaming off to the hills and refuse to come back.
DO NOT DO THIS. I’ll do more than Gibbs slap you. Watch that damn ending with the FBI. MEMORIZE IT. FREEZE IT IN YOUR MEMORY FOR ALL TIME and put a big, very big
sign on it.
Got it? NEVER.
And the ending where they toss you a peanut and say here, be satisfied with this… sucks. The abrupt transition and the peanut you get from a perfectly good scene that is wasted as an ending to this turkey makes it hurt worse.
THIS IS WHY YOU PLOT. Even if it is an outline like I showed you I do. Do not EVER do this. God no. Your time in hell will be painful if you do once the Writing Gods grab you.
Do not plod and jump or plod or jump. Go back to learn how to write if you do any of this. I know some Hollywood writers now that are either ready to kill a film editor or really don’t deserve that paycheck.
Verboten signs dirt cheap btw…. And I feel better after having a chance to rant about a hideous plot with hideous writing.