Structure, plotting, and beats oh my
What was I thinking when I signed up for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo? I was already working on a novel. I had already plotted the beginning, middle, and end…Along with the catalyst, the midpoint, the darkest moment, and the B-Story. I know, I lost my ever loving mind. I just lost it! So I decide to plot a completely different novel for Camp NaNo (April) and get most of it in my project in Scrivener, and at the last minute an idea hits me like a ton of bricks! WHOA!
Stop! So I’m working on the structure for that one. Plotting. Reading about plotting, structure, Saving the Cat, and beats…WHAT!?! Somebody has to save a cat? No, no…that’s just the hook…Oh, okay. I got it now. Back to plotting. Back to the dreaded outline. And outlines are not my cup of coffee, they never have been. I spent my first NaNo as a pantster. Then I became a plotster. I tried so hard to be a plotter, but I just get bored with that much detail being put into an outline–I’m long-winded, my outlines don’t look like outlines–No, they look like condensed essays or summaries, a few even look like short stories. And I’ve went through stacks upon stacks of index cards because there just isn’t enough room on one to write it all down.
CUT! Cut! I said cut! Okay, so that type of outlining doesn’t work for me. I wish like hell it did, but it doesn’t. So I condense my index cards to three-four word sentences, or phrases. And the whole while my inner editor, bitch that she is, is screaming. I can hear her as I write those short sentences or phrases. I finally yell back, “It’s just a friggin’ outline!” Okay, I feel better now.
I’ve looked at way too many beat sheets. One too many writing resources about structure. It’s all starting to run together. I go back to the Cat. 15 beats. Only when I look at the list I automatically want to convert the pages for the screenplay into novel pages. Where does the inciting incident go in a novel? Where is that rascally rabbit called the First Plot Point and where does he go? My goodness, don’t forget about the Set Up. So I read some more. Found examples. And wouldn’t you know I found this great post about Harry Potter and structure. Complete with diagrams, percentages, and examples that my overloaded plotster brain can comprehend. If you want to check it out here’s the link. Hell, I even printed out one of the diagrams so I could compare it to the book, which meant I could read the Harry Potter series all over again. (Yes, I realize I’m 46 years old and a grandmother and a wife and a mother and…Reading Harry Potter gave me the same feeling I got the first time I read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia–yes, I’ve reread the series as an adult but alas my big book is gone and I need to get another–insert extremely sad face here). So on top of trying to write 50K for Camp NaNo, reading several books on structure, along with writing in general, I am also rereading the Harry Potter series. And to be honest, each time I reach my goal I give myself permission to read two-three chapters from Harry Potter, otherwise I’d be curled up on my couch all day reading about Harry’s adventures and my novel for Camp NaNo would develop virtual cobwebs. Last NaNo I rewarded myself with an episode of Supernatural (I was catching up on missed episodes), along with copious amounts of dark chocolate. I’ve done better this time about limiting my amount of chocolate, but I can’t say the same about my reading for pleasure.