One of my favorite ways to fight the nagging of procrastination and get my blood flowing is to go back and read over past manuscripts. Although I am not sure you could really call them that-- more like attempts at manuscripts.
In reading them it is easy to see at times how far I have come, it is also easy to see how far I have yet to journey. One of the funniest things I've found in past tales is my inability to not put something into the folds of the tale. I had to have everything and the kitchen sink in there. Every piece, scrap and tiny bit of any tale I had ever found in the past was wrapped into this monster of a project.
Then it hits me, like two-ton A&E commercial, I am a hoarder! I am a plot hoarder. Yes me, I have a writing disease that causes me to writing without focus! I take everything I have piled up, the millions of ideas, I gathered as a yearling artist, and crammed them all into one little slip of a story.
There are several reasons for this as I now realize, one being the lack of an overall theme. Theme was always the word that makes me wince, it is the one aspect within the confines of writing dogma that I had more or less rejected. It wasn’t until recently, via a Kristen Lamb blog, specifically about ‘getting primal with your plot’, that I smoothed my ruffled feathers about what it means to have a theme. Kristen made me realize, that I was making it more complex than it actually was. I was simply getting in my own way because I didn’t get it and my writing showed it.
When people would ask me what my book was about I would in effect get tongue tied and not be able to say anything in response. I was of the thinking that I was too close to the plot, the characters, the way they all co-existed in my little brain there was no way for me to sum up the theme of the book in just a few words. BUZZ! Wrong Answer!
The truth is that I couldn’t sum it up because it was a jumbled fracking mess, with no structure. I, in my infinite ignorance, was making it too difficult trying to throw every plot twist, and ah moment into a story that in fact closely resembled the blob. Why was I making it so difficult? Why couldn’t I just see that I needed a theme, cut everything else away and be done with it?
First off, I was a know it all, young, writer, who thought there was nothing anyone could teach her that she didn’t already know. I am a natural after all. NOT!
Solution? Boil it down. Go primal, rip away all of the extra crap and what is left? Usually a single word or two. To illustrate my point, I will use my own books as the examples.
Trust Me – Serenity Lost Family Loyalty/Love / Don’t get killed
Trust Me – Veiled Deception Don’t Die / Love / Protect loved ones
Trust Me – Jaded Promises Revenge / Love /Protect Loved Ones
Tarot Series – Shockwave Love / Vengeance
Tarot Series – Backlash Love / Protect Loved Ones/ Survive
Tarot Series – Fallout Love / Survive
You Never Could Be Love / Sex / Trust
Little Angels Love/ Trust / Don’t Die
That’s it, too easy right? Well no it really isn’t. If you take these words and use them as your compass you will be able to in turn focus your manuscript and rip away all of the useless crap. Now, don’t so nutz and start deleting everything! Please don’t! Yes this is an aspect of my hoarding I will not release. If it made it to the page it is worth the ink. Maybe not now, but it will fit in somewhere, someday. Alright back to our little experiment. The ultimate self test is to translate the categories to the story plot, right? Okay we will try one. Little Angels – FBI Agent falls in love with her partner / FBI Agent cannot trust anyone while undercover / FBI Agent has to bring down the bad guys and not die. Hot Damn it worked!
See, it works! I dare you to prove me wrong! And or to test your own manuscripts, how focused are your plots? Can you complete the challenge?
Check out awesome author Kristen Lamb on her blog! And yes, Kristen Inspired Writing Warriors name.
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