Nathan Bransford wrote about plot last week. He called the entry "Do You Have Plot?" and used an opening and closing door analogy similar to what I'd read the night before in James Scott Bell's PLOT & STRUCTURE. (Thanks to
for that recommendation, by the way!)
Now, maybe I've heard this analogy before, but I must not have cared or paid attention back whenever that might have been. This time around, it's really sinking in. I've been thinking many thoughts about plot as a door in regards to the project I'm currently planning and other novels I've read. It really works!
In the midst of all this learning, I became concerned that maybe TFM doesn't have this structure. I started rereading my draft Sunday night and finished this morning. I was glad to realize it does work! The part I hadn't been able to figure out was when the door actually closes, but when I got to that part in the story, I could pretty much feel it slam. (And I still love the story as much as I did when I finished writing it in February, so that was good news.)
This weekend, my sister helped me with more brainstorming for MEOW SISTERS. I'd been considering (another) new direction for a couple of days based on an off-hand comment one of my crit partners made. Talking through it helped me see that it was okay to scrap almost everything I had before. Not only that, but I should scrap it. (Sorry, there will be no half-sister twins after all!) I now feel like I have something that will work. I still have the same hook, but with better, stronger parallels. I also worked out character backstory and motivations that make sense all around, and I have a decent idea of what will set the door ajar, keep it open, and eventually close it.
Moving forward, I want to keep making decisions about these characters that will support the hook and plot. I have to say, all this emphasis I've been putting on hook and plot feel like a backward and unnatural way to go about my writing, but I see the value in it, and I'm hoping it will pay off.
When I look back on how MEOW has changed since I first thought of it over three years ago--and even how it has changed since I decided to re-focus on it a couple of months ago--the only things that have remained the same are the title, the two main characters' names, their deep-down essences, and the fact that they are half-sisters. In the past, I've had certain characteristics and storylines planned for each of them that seemed non-negotiable, but I've had to let go of those things. In doing so, I'm creating a better, more coherent story. I know it. I can feel it.
It is a very good feeling.