“Gasp!” you say. “How novel. Heh, get it?”
Yes, quite well, thank you.
Typically I don’t talk about my writing for fear my blog readers will die of boredom, but after spending the better part of a month (and an intense two hours last evening) wrestling with the plot for my third Matt Archer book, it’s on my mind and spilling out for the world to see.
When you write a contemporary YA, everyone expects the characters to “feel their feels,” so you have some leeway in exploring their lives in small moves. But, when you write YA action/adventure, the expectation is “here a monster, there a monster, everywhere, kill a monster.” True…but I wanted to write a paranormal series that kept my characters real, raw and flawed. To allow relationships to be as important as the hunt. Only time (and reviews) will tell me if I’ve been successful, but that’s why I’ve been struggling with MA3. There’s so much to do to get ready for the big finish (and at this rate, I’ll either have a really long book 4, or have to split it into two books, although I kind of hate myself for even thinking it…), that when this book cried out to be about Matt’s journey as a, dare I say it, human being, I ignored him.
And the book suffered a major identity crisis as a result.
So now, having written what my husband so eloquently called “a really good book without a central plot” I had to take a big step back and look at it with fresh eyes. Armed with index cards, Sharpies and Save the Cat, I cranked out the storyline, looking for my lost themes. It was hard…and a big ego bust when I figured out the plot had been staring me in the face. In fact, Matt himself told me exactly what the book was about in the first two paragraphs of the book — and reinforced it in the second chapter. Wow.
So now I start rewriting. It’s not going to take a bulldozer and guys in hardhats to fix the plot, but it will take some restructuring and a new ending. And that’s okay. At least now I know, right? And one of my goals is to getting better about outlining, especially for Matt 4 (or Matt 4 and 5…oh, man ::cries::), to make sure all those little threads come together in a gnarly, unexpected, beautiful bow.
While it might feel like I’m the only author who’s ever had this happen, I imagine I’m not. Anybody else run into a muddled/hiding plot issue? What did you do to resolve it? I’d love to hear your suggestions.