Learning From Mistakes

The other day I posted about how using the word paladin to describe my main character might not have been the best of ideas (here).

Turns out I made another big blunder when laying out the story: there’s no plot!

This sounds overly dramatic, and technically speaking it’s not correct, but it does sum up the issue neatly in just a few words. The plot is there, but it’s not obvious to the reader what it is. It takes until the seventh scene until it is revealed to the reader why Toini has come home.

Up until that point, she’s just walked around a bit, talked a lot about her past with her sister, and… not much else.

In this context I like to think about plot as separate from conflict. The story isn’t built around a conflict that needs to be resolved, but I think the reader will still need to know what Toini wants to achieve. She has to have a sense of purpose and something that motivates her.

If the reader doesn’t know what Toini’s goal is they won’t be able to tell if she’s making any progress towards it. They will have no way to gauge whether what’s happening is important or not, and they won’t have a context.

Obviously, this is a pretty big deal for the story.

I’m still going to finish writing it. The seventh scene is done and will be uploaded later today, and there’s only two more to go before it’s done. I’d like to have the story completed.

Once this first draft is done though, I’ll start over from scratch. I’ll rewrite the entire outline from the very beginning. It’ll be an entirely different story, but it will still be about the same character, doing the same thing, at the same time. I’ll just tell it differently.

Put like that, it sounds kind of interesting. It’ll be fun to see how it turns out.

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Learning From Mistakes

2 thoughts on “Learning From Mistakes

  1. Loni Townsend says:

    I have one of those stories. It started out as a paragraph of a minor character’s backstory and turned into a 16K novella. It was pretty much what happened to him and his emotional turmoil through it. No plot. But since it was just a character backstory, I don’t think I’ll be revising mine.

    Best of luck defining the plot more clearly in yours!

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