Please welcome an amazing new author I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with (and did I mention she’s an illustrator as well?). Ms. Nastasia Peters (aka Nas) is joining us today to share with us her book, Altors (Zinc Trilogy, #1), and also her advice on how to NOT let your plot eat you. Don’t know what that means? Then read on!
Following the murder of their legal guardian, two best friends suffer the thing they fear most, separation. Solenum and Calycanthus must take the adventurous paths of finding their way back to one another, and as they do so, they will uncover the secrets their land has been hiding beneath a carefully constructed facade for centuries.
Snag the book @ Smashwords (50% off coupon code, good till 6/13: HV65F)
Guest Post: When Your Plot Tries to Eat You
Thank you, Alesha, for welcoming me on your blog. I’m very happy to virtually be here!
For those who don’t know who I am, before I became a writer, I was/am an illustrator. The Zinc trilogy are the first long stories I’ve written and the first that have a deep and developed plot. I had played around with short stories before, never truly taking my writing seriously. They were just notes that accompanied the illustrations I drew, things I wanted to remember as I thought them up while drawing characters and environments.
When Zinc happened, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and it’s only when I finished the first draft of what today has become Altors, first installment in the trilogy, that I realized I’d written a story that could be shaped into a book. I approached it as I would a drawing, creating an unstable skeleton that would eventually become the story’s backbone and from there I started creating written story boards that I would then flesh out until they were completed scenes. I’m kind of an oblivious person, always late to the party, so it didn’t occur to me to research anything before writing the second draft. I sorely regretted it months later. I did the exact same thing when I started drawing actually, it’s a vicious cycle that I subconsciously don’t seem to want to remove from my system.
So you’re sitting there all proud of yourself because you wrote out your first pretty looking outline and go, “I can write the final version of the story now!” And then I was introduced to plot holes. I tried using bottle corks to close them, apparently it doesn’t work that way. This is where your plot is sarcastically looking back at you, giving you a first glimpse at its pointy canines. But even if you are trembling in fear, realizing it will take a lot of work to remove the plot holes, you have come to enjoy writing about these characters, getting to know them and their adventures, so you buckle down and face the sharp pointed canines.
The first drafts of your plot outline are a lot like cats. Pet it too much and it’ll hiss before scratching or biting. This is where my plot line showed me more of its teeth. The sarcastic smirk was replaced by a smile that only held pity for me when tiny plots were starting to unleash themselves and distracting me away from the major plot line. When I realized that? I felt a lot like Harry Potter in that scene where he has to stay on the bed in order to avoid the hungry monster book, only in my case, stroking the cover wasn’t an option as my story didn’t have a cover yet.
This is where I finally realized researching might be a good idea, so I went to do that and to be honest, I was more confused than I was before because every single author has their unique approach to building a story. That was a pretty dark time in my writing experience, I went ahead and blacked it out because I don’t remember anything besides internally freaking out at my text. But I do know exactly what I did to fix and in the same process, give my editor a minor heart attack. I was trying to condense everything into one book. I was forcing myself to write out by chapter, thinking of limited word count and limited page number. I was doing the writing of the story along with the editing and finalizing of the book all at once. Rookie mistake, I’m sure. I hope.
Before my plot line – now grown into werewolf shape ready to eat me – could eat me whole, I removed the limitations and my plot never terrified me again. Don’t get me wrong, it still tries to kick my ass on occasion, like recently I decided to remove an entire character out of the last book in the Zinc trilogy (she annoyed the hell out of me). Hah, yeah, funny Nas, now you have to rebuild those entire scenes since that character interacted with the main characters. But it’s an adventure to tackle that issue and fix it now rather than a scary horror as it was when I started writing.
Thanks for sharing, Nas! I have to admit, my pet outlines have hissed at me and redirected me plenty a time 🙂