Late Tuesday night on my way home to Hawaii, somewhere high over the Pacific Ocean, just as the battery on my laptop was about to die, I finished Draft Four. To celebrate the epic moment, I read a Diana Wynne Jones novel, ate a candy bar, and then played tic-tac-toe with the six-year-old Polynesian girl in the seat next to me.
The next day, when I had my feet on the ground again, all the flaws in my manuscript came round to haunt me. Four drafts and the story still wasn't right, and I couldn't see how to fix it.
After tearfully confessing to my husband that if I can't get this book to work I want to quit writing and take up a new hobby, he had me sit down and listen to this great lecture on story structure by author Dan Wells. I've included the first part here:
You should watch all five parts yourself, but here's what I got out of it:
SEVEN POINT STORY STRUCTURE
-Sets up the situation
PLOT TURN 1
-Propels the character out of the initial situation
-Something bad happens that forces the character to action
-Character begins to take action
-Something really bad happens, it looks like all is lost
PLOT TURN 2
-The character figures out how to save the day
-A new state of being is reached that shows progress or change from the initial state
But that's not all! Really great stories have multiple story lines running at the same time, and each one can follow this structure. In the last part of this lecture, Dan Wells talks about mapping multiple story lines to check for pacing and how to build killer scenes by stacking up plot points.
I just had to try it! And when I did, I REALIZED WHAT WAS WRONG WITH MY STORY!
Oh, happy day!
I picked out the four most important story lines and wrote out each of the seven points, then charted them chronologically through the book. Turns out one of the story lines was MISSING A POINT! Now I finally know what to do with Chapter 8. But worst of all, I had another story line that didn't hit PINCH 2 until after the other three were RESOLVED! So any reader who didn't care about that particular story line would be feeling done with the book when there's still two chapters to go.
My solution? Integrate that story line so it isn't dangling out, tacked on the end. Stack up the plot points instead to make the ending really rock.
So now I have a plan for Draft Five. But in the interest of not burning my burrito (see Leisha's post), I'm going to take a month off for summer vacation.
Happy writing, everyone!