plotting


While doing research for my bisexual erotic romance novel, I ran across Marketing Beef: A Gay Romance by Rick Bettencourt and bought it.

Marketing Beef is about an accountant named Evan McCormick who falls for the new guy at work (who is way above his pay grade). A complication involves financial scandal in his company; as the accountant, Evan falls under suspicion.

From the title and blurb, I thought the story would take place in the office. Most of the novel took place while camping, though, and I kept wondering when they were going to get back to the office. I enjoy camping, but the business issues framed the camping trips rather than being an integral part of the plot. While their ‘big fight’ revolved around the scandal, the issue felt tacked on.

The main character and plot lines sometimes seemed contrived – painfully shy yet has multiple former lovers, all who ‘somehow’ end up at the same place? Hmm.

There was one place where I had to page back because of confusion about ‘what body part is going where’ … which may have been an editing issue more than anything else.

That said, the novel was entertaining and had several very funny scenes (‘egg’ in the hair, anyone?). It’s a good solid novel which anyone who enjoys m/m romance would like.

I’ll give this three thumbs up. Nice work.

 

three thumbs up

 

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How’s everyone doing?

Since April, my sons have started high school band (they integrate the 8th graders in at the end of the year), my daughter has graduated high school, and the house is all in a flurry because she’s getting married next month.

It’s bittersweet to be losing a daughter (yet gaining a son, so to speak), but they seem to love each other, and she’s continuing with her education. So I’m pleased about it.

I’ve been working on the garden (which has really perked up this year), taking care of home and rabbits, driving kids places, and working on the Think Sideways class. I’m a bit behind, but learning A LOT.

Each class builds on the one before it, so it’s a bit difficult to explain, but the homework for this lesson is to split your planned story into scenes then write a one-sentence blurb for each scene. For example, the Council of Elrond in Lord of the Rings could be summed up this way:

The Council of Elrond meets, and after much controversy, appoints Frodo and eight others to go to Mount Doom and destroy the Ring.

As you can imagine, this homework is taking me a while to do. But it’s a great way to get a handle on the book before you write it. I had an idea of where I wanted the story to start then realized that I really needed to start the story a few scenes earlier. Also, doing this has shown me where I need to do research (anyone know how to sail?) and where the logic holes in my plot are. All this before I spend weeks writing this thing.

So I’m very happy about the class.

What have you been up to? Anything good going on the rest of us need to know about?

I just started lesson five on the How to Think Sideways class (lesson six is up but I’ve been slow). This lesson … mind-blowing. If you can imagine tapping into your subconscious for all the things that motivate you, then putting THAT into your writing on a conscious level … it’s incredible.

I have two great ideas for stories from lesson 4, but I’m going with the SF one (any surprise?) because I can do a better job on this without a ton of research — I’ll need some (know someone who curses in Chinese?) but it’s set in Los Angeles and that’s a place I already know.

Click the box at the top of the sidebar on the right there for more information on the course, or you’re welcome to ask about it. I’ve gotten my money’s worth already and I still have the rest of the year to go.

… that while I can write for weeks straight, I can’t do that with large-scale editing (as in dealing with plot, sub-plot and the like). My brain just shuts down until it has enough time off.

So it seems editing is the limiting factor as to how productive I can be.

I’ve read books on writing productivity, any ideas (or books you recommend) on editing? Because this is starting to bother me.

I’ve written a few first drafts now and I’m starting to see a pattern here.

First drafts are to finished books as a bag of groceries is to a finished dinner.  You have to make sure you have all the ingredients you want in the story, but no way are you shoving the cake mix in your mouth right out of the box. You have to work with it first.

In the same way, writing the first draft is about getting the elements of the story down. No way is this going to be or even supposed to be readable.

The difference is (at least for me) that I often don’t know what the elements of the story are until I write that first draft. I have some ideas, sure. A plot, an outline even sometimes. (that’s a bit like your grocery list, to continue the analogy) But how a character will react, the interactions they’ll have with a minor character, an encounter with their families … all these define a person on one hand and illuminate their personality on the other. I don’t see these coming sometimes until they get written.

I see too many people struggling to make their first drafts ‘perfect’. They won’t be. Stop trying.

Or as Tom Clancy put it, “Just finish the damn thing.”

I ran across this quote and I had to share it with you:

“Plotting is like sex. Plotting is about desire and satisfaction, anticipation and release. You have to arouse your reader’s desire to know what happens, to unravel the mystery, to see good triumph. You have to sustain it, keep it warm, feed it, just a little bit, not too much at a time, as your story goes on. That’s called suspense. It can bring desire to a frenzy, in which case you are in a good position to bring off a wonderful climax.” — Colin Greenland

Happy Valentine’s Day.