In my attempts to write novel-length fiction, I’ve made a discovery. I may be good at creating a setting and writing dialogue. I can balance narration, action, and description. But plotting is not my strength.
Sure, I can come up with the broad strokes. I know how things start. I know how they end. I even know the majority of the important plot points. But the middle? There’s a reason they call it the muddled middle and I am it.
I’ve read plenty of books on plotting. And I can move through the various steps. When you plot ala the Hero’s Journey, you start in the every day world. The hero receives the call, etc. When I work with Save the Cat, I can check the boxes on each and every major beat.
But when I start to compose my actual text, I flounder. I know that a big part of this is that, as Brendon Sanderson says, I am a cook not a chef. I can check off the steps but I don’t have that full, deep down understanding that allows a writer to run with it and create a book-length plot that sings.
What to do? Sure, I could buy more books on plot. And if you look at the photo above, you probably think that is what I’ve done. But, no. I’ve signed up for Madeline Dyer’s “Narrative Structures” class at WOW! Women on Writing.
When I took Melanie Faith’s graphic novel class, I quickly realized that by discussing the topic with someone much more skilled than myself, my competence grew much faster. It helped that I got specific feedback and someone who could point out what I did well and where I needed to put in more effort.
What writing classes have you taken? If no classes, how do you improve your skills?
Care to join me? Those are the books and my oh-so handsome assistant.