Thoughts and Inspiration for Creative Writers

-from Chrysalis Editorial

90 Days to Your Novel: Day 4

Posted on | July 1, 2011 | 1 Comment

birthday hbf 014Day…Strictly speaking this is day 12, maybe 13, but…

…alright, yes, I’m still on day 4. Moving on to day 5 later today. This may sound like I’m making excuses, but a few things intervened, like multiple celebrations of my birthday, my editorial work for clients (that’s how I make a living), a trip to the beach and my son Jack’s 21st birthday.

Okay, so I got behind. But there’s something else. And that’s Sarah Domet’s unrealistic time schedule. Yes, Sarah, I’m pinning some of the blame on you. Here’s the deal. Day 3’s assignment was to write character profiles, or as Sarah puts it: “familiarize yourself with a minimum of ten characters.” Ten! And my taskmaster doesn’t just want a paragraph on each character, but everything from physical to personality traits, likes and dislikes, family members and significant others, traumatic life event, favorite childhood memory, kind of music he/she likes, and series of other things. It took me about an hour and a half to do one of these. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly helpful, but they take time. Because I work, I can normally spend about three hours each day working on my novel. So you can see that it took me several days to work on these characters. And to be honest I’m still not up to ten. But I am getting familiar with them.

Likewise with Day 4, Plot Happens. This day’s assignment involved not only writing a scene but also writing a 250 word synopsis of the entire book! We’re talking Day 4! Zoom, zoom.

A few things I want to pass along about Plot. Sarah’s thinking is this: On day 3 we write characters, now the characters are going to begin doing things, acting and reacting, and this eventually becomes the story, or the plot. I really like this: “It’s less useful to think about plot as what happens in a novel,” Sarah Domet writes. “Instead it’s more useful to think about it as what happens to a particular character and how she responds to it, thus causing other plot points.

She gives us another example: “E.M. Forster, in Aspects of the Novel, defines plot’s function with the novel as being causal in nature. That is, one event causes another, and this is how plot differs from its more chronological cousin story.” Here’s his example: “The king dies and then the queen died” is not a plot. “The king dies and then the queen died of grief” is a plot. One caused the other.

Unfortunately my time to write this blog post has just run out. I’m on my way to St. Louis to do a reading from Confessions: Fact or Fiction? at Left Bank Books on Euclid Street tomorrow night (6/30) at 7 pm. I grew up in St. Louis, so it’s really fun to go “home” and read at one of my favorite independent book stores in the country.

I’ll be working on Day 5 while flying thousands of feet above the earth.


One Response to “90 Days to Your Novel: Day 4”

  1. Fedz
    October 3rd, 2015 @ 6:22 pm

    This is magnificent, what a great way to talk about maotteiidn! I need to delve into my practice again I have been neglecting it horribly, and your post reminds me how truly nourishing it is. Also, when I have a yard, I want it to be a blueberry yard!

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