The Plot Thickens

March 2, 2011 at 6:00 am 3 comments

I’m feeling good this week. I had an ‘AHA!’ moment in my writing endeavours. I’m sure you’re aware that I’ve been writing a book for a few years now. It’s been great fun but a finished product has eluded me. I’ve been very dissatisfied for some reason and I can’t seem to work on something that doesn’t feel right and I’m not satisfied with. It’s something like plugging away at homework when you’re not into the subject. Writing should be fun and give the writer a thrill. Right?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a blast writing the book and being part of a working group that’s evolved into a critique group and has fed my ego by responding to my need to be a smartass. I love it … when it’s working right. When you’re in a mud hole and spinning your wheels, it’s awful.

Last week our group discussed my writing depression and how it deepened when, what I considered, my best piece was rejected for an upcoming book. One colleague has been with me on several writing courses and he suggested I just go balls to the wall like I used to in our early classes together. That appealed to me. I like being silly. Maybe I am over thinking this whole thing. I looked forward to getting on the computer and going at it.

Well, looking forward lasted about a week because I’m a procrastinator (OK, nice way of saying lazy…) but there was a deadline fast approaching. I had to submit thirty pages of work for our next meeting and only had a few days. Damn! I finally bit the bullet to get the piece done for Friday distribution to the group members so they had time to read it and critique it for our Monday evening meeting.

I started out as if it was homework and I was being the classroom smartass. I’d just plug along with some crap and hope for the best or as one person used to say, “Throw a buncha shit against the wall and see what sticks.” I got about five pages in and I started to enjoy flying by the seat of the pants but then I felt that old hesitation creeping in. Where the frigg was I going with this? Gee … I really had no idea! In class when you write 400 – 600 words it’s easy to steer a subject, but 30 pages is about 10,000 words. That takes some crafting. Maybe it would help if I knew where this thing was going.

I’ve been studying Sherlock Holmes in order to learn about detective novels. I’ll talk about Holmes another day but in my conundrum I picked up my Holmes book and read for awhile. Then … an idea! A wonderful, terrible, fiendish idea. I would ‘borrow’ a plot from Doyle. After all, hadn’t he brazenly ‘borrowed’ from Poe? So I stole a plot. HA ha ha ha ha!

My helpful colleague had also suggested I write a western, so now my happy conundrum was to fit a Sherlock Holmes plot into a western story. But I did it. Ha! Once I had a direction it was easy.

My great epiphany was that I really sucked at plot. I was elated as I wrote. My fingers (all two of ‘em) couldn’t type fast enough. My mind was a blur. I was like a demon genius. Page after page rolled off the screen. I even let out an involuntary, “Mwaaaa Ha Ha Ha.” The cats ran and hid. My wife peeked around the corner to make sure I wasn’t turning green and ripping my clothes. The computer was overheating. My eyes were red and bugging out. It felt so good.I finished the piece and titled it ‘Billy the Kid Becomes Billy’ late Friday afternoon. Normally I would check for spelling and then edit it down maybe twice but there was a deadline. I sent it out.

Now my mission is clear. I have to learn about plot. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Stephen King wrote a book titled, ‘On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft’. It is an autobiography as well as his suggestions on how to write. In it, he says his method is to invent a character and then see what we can do to this poor sucker. Obviously he has an innate talent for plot. I don’t. So please be patient as I study plot and then look out. I have enough material to do probably two and maybe three books. I am energized again.

Aside from my weekly whining in this blog I will, from time to time, keep you updated on my reinvigorated life as a writer who is learning plot. Thanks for your support and encouragement.


© Dave Jones/ Thunderbridge Productions 2011


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dale Long  |  March 2, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I thought there was something more to that story! Nice twist to take a Holmes plot and set it in the Wild West!

    Balls to the wall it was too. THAT’s the Dave I like to read, no filters, no preconcieved notions, just great characterizations..

    Move over Zane Grey, there’s a new gun in town..

  • 2. The Writing Runner  |  March 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I have a natural calling toward certain KINDS of plots, but they aren’t the ones New York wants more of the time, so it’s like having special gift that gets you kicked out of the self-proclaimed cool kids club! 😉 Good luck with your work!

  • 3. Lisa Llamrei  |  March 9, 2011 at 8:27 am

    For someone with no talent for plot, you did quite a fine job. Oh yeah, you stole the plot. Well, so do we all. I think there only are about 6 different plots flying around.

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