Most of my story ideas come from a tiny spark: a single scene, a premise that interests me, or an intriguing character. That spark is the all-important beginning to a story, but it’s not nearly enough to build an 80,000-word book.
It’s no secret to my long-time blog readers that I struggle with plotting. By this, I don’t mean structure, I mean the meat that hangs on those structural bones. For example, in Counting on You, the H/H meet under false pretenses. When he later ends up as her boss, it sets up all sorts of problems.
The opening scene at a fundraiser was the spark that got me going, and suggested several scenes to follow. Great! But then what? I muddled my way through, and luckily found a few turning points, battled a saggy middle, and wrapped it all up. That is, after I scrapped a bunch of material and started over from 1/3 of the way through.
Hmm, I did that with Slow Burn, too. Do you see a pattern?
I have some writing strengths. For example, CPs and judges usually like my dialogue. And I do okay with the opening scenes, but figuring out what happens next is not my strong point. I know that my new understanding of structure will help me write the story, once I figure out what all those major milestones should be. But even having the milestones laid down isn’t enough.
I’ve been working on a new MS for the last few weeks, and like a good girl, I sketched out my turning points ahead of time. But then I started writing the story and didn’t like how it felt. I started over with a new angle, and still didn’t like it. So, even having a plot and hanging it on a nice structure isn’t everything.
There’s some missing element, some extra ingredient that makes it all work. Like the salt in a cookie recipe.
Maybe that’s the art of it.
If I figure out what it is, I’ll be sure to let you know. Any suggestions?