Monday, November 12, 2012

Fresh Plots: WSG 30

I'm writing the first draft of my eleventh book.

Yes, eleven!

It's pretty cool to look back at where I started so many years ago. I vividly remember the day I decided I would write a novel. In my bedroom, surrounded by tiny pink flowered wallpaper, Chante' Moore crooning on the radio, and a gentle, patient snow coming down outside, I sprawled on the floor and began filling a notebook with my book.


Colors of Springtime Happiness
Photo by pinksherbet

I vaguely recall it being set in Chicago and the "book" consisted of a series of dream dates--my idea of a perfect romance novel.

Within a few hours, I realized my error. If a man and woman only deal with dream dates, the book ends at page 22. This knowledge didn't stop me; it fueled my desire to get it right--to figure out how my favorite authors did it. How did they write such compelling books?

My engineering career and the early years with my babies led me on a detour from my writing, but I did finish my first book seven years later.

Now that I have ten completed books under my silver, square-linked belt, I know the danger of getting comfortable. I've only ever written one genre--romance. It's the only genre I want to write. Sure, I've dabbled in romantic suspense. I've written quite a few sweet romances for the mainstream audience. But my true love lies in my current genre: contemporary romance for the Christian market.

To keep my new book fresh, I tried a different plotting method, but by chapter three I found myself writing a scene and feeling that something wasn't quite right. After a long session of trying to determine the problem, I realized the plot progression felt familiar. I'd done something similar in a previous book.

Out came my new writing craft book, The Story Structure Architect, recommended to me by Jessica R. Patch. It's  not a read-straight-through-book. It's more to help you make decisions about where your book should go. The "situations" section in the final half of the book really helps with this. I read through two situations and inspiration struck.

In some ways, writing a book is easier now that I have years of experience. The writing itself is better, and I trust my instincts. But in many ways it's a lot harder. I have to challenge myself to find new twists, to come up with more unique plots. And, I'm always learning. Always will be learning.

Have you found yourself copying yourself--or another author--with your current plot? How do you keep your plots fresh?

Have a terrific Monday!

17 comments:

  1. I'm definitely guilty. For some reason, suicide and twins keep popping up in some form or another in my stories. It's fine when the books don't end up being published, but if I end up SPing my books, I don't want to be branded for this. Now every time the word twins or suicide pops in my head, I have to force myself to try something else.

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    1. Ha, ha! I know!! I think we're drawn to certain plotlines. Guilty!!

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  2. Yep. I was stuck just this weekend. I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted, prayed, wrote, deleted...until finally I had a shell of something I think may work for the scene I'm in. I agree, the more I've written, the easier it's become in some areas. Keeping it fresh, however, has gotten harder. Sometimes I so loved a character in an old book that I see him or her bleeding into the character's voice I'm currently writing. That's where I tend to be most guilty.

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    1. Yes, we are our characters, to a degree at least. It's hard not to let them bleed into future books. :)

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  3. YES. Oh my goodness, I'm afraid to start the next book because I really want my characters to be unique and I don't want them to be carbon copies of eachother...which is hard because there are specific personalities that I'm drawn to in novels. lol

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    1. I hear you!! I feel the same way. I love a certain type of hero--can't help it!

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  4. It's really tempting to make certain characters alike and to deal with the same basic issues over and over again.

    I'm impressed...11 books! That's so awesome. :)

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    1. Dealing with the same issues--ugh! I know! It's hard to mix it up!

      Thanks!

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  5. I just started plotting my second book, which, in my opinion is very different than my first, but when I was talking over the plot with my hubby he kind of had a funny little smile on his face and he said: "This plot reminds me of your other book." huh? He showed me the similarity and, I have to admit, it was there. Back to the drawing board and now (with his wise ear attuned to my plotting ideas), I've come up with a far different story - one I like even better. :)

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    1. Nice! How awesome to have such a helpful hubby! And, yay, on even better stories. When I stretch myself, I'm always pleased with the result!

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  6. I'll have to add this to my tbr list!

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    1. Like I said, it's not an "inspirational, motivational, read-straight-through" book. But it's great for picking up when you feel stuck or something isn't right. :)

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  7. I've discovered I put my characters in the same situations or places that I've already done in another ms. LOL I'm like, geez can't I come up with something new or have I written so many mss, I've just forgotten. Probably both! ha!

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    1. Same here, Jess. I shake my head and wonder why my imagination keeps finding the same old thing? :)

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  8. Oooh, me needs to check out that craft book!

    Yes, sometimes I feel "same old, same old". LOL But I find with romance...it's not so much the plot as the characters I'm trying to make a little unique. we'll see, I guess. :-)

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    1. I know what you mean. My characters always feel different and real to me--so I have less chance of being repetitive there. Except for dialogue. Ugh!

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  9. I am impressed that you have written 11 books. That in itself is a great accomplishment. And I'm sure many of them are actually good. Way to go! I'd love to read one some time.

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