November 2, 2011

go big. go bold. go dangerous.

So, two weeks ago, I officially started writing the first draft for the sequel to The Clockwork Giant, but since starting, I’ve written very little. Yes, last week, we installed laminate floors, and as a result of that, I had a lot of projects to do during the day that couldn’t wait until I was done writing for the day. That said, I don’t think I would have gotten much written anyway. Something’s wrong with my plot, and until yesterday, I didn’t know what.

Now, being NaNoWriMo, this is as good a time as any for this post. Oftentimes, writers come to a standstill in the middle of a project. All of a sudden, nothing makes sense. It’s all crap. Every last bit of it. Might as well scrap it and start over. When I was a pantser, this happened to me all the time. I just sort of wandered around until things made sense. Oh, that’s what I was trying to say? Okay, now I can write properly.

I thought that would go away when I started plotting. It hasn’t. I still have to figure out the point of a story before I can start writing, and the problem with my work in progress: I don’t have a point. It’s the dreaded middle of a trilogy, the bridge book, the one that exists only to set up the third book. Blargh. I do like the plot that I have, the bare bones of it, but it needs more punch. It needs a reason to exist. It needs to stand on its own.

So, I’m going to spend today brainstorming the overarching plot of all three books. I already have the foundation, I just need to figure out what the big middle turning point will be, because essentially, the second book is the majority of the second act of the overall story. This is where the most action needs to happen. When you come to the end of the second book, hope should be minimal, a happy ending impossible in the characters’ eyes. To make the second book as phenomenal as it should be, I have to take a few risks.

Those of you that have been following my blog for a long time know that I tend to preach about taking risks in your writing. Well, to tell the truth, there’s nothing risky about this second book. It’s safe. It’s a bridge made of stone, maybe a few feet off the ground. What I need is a rickety bridge with boards missing, and a hundred-mile-an-hour wind blasting it from side to side, crossing a thousand foot drop into a churning river of lava, and on the other side, there’s a velociraptor riding a tornado. Maybe I can turn back, but no, behind me, there’s an army of thirty-foot-tall spiders. That’s the sort of bridge I need. I need to make that happen for my characters, where things seem hopeless and impossible. So, to do that, I’m going to think big. I’m going to think crazy. I’m going to brainstorm up the most ridiculous, most dangerous, most adventurous, most unexpected obstacles that my characters could possible face. Because right now, they just have to survive the inconvenience of their circumstances. That’s not good enough.

I can always rope it back in during revisions. But not only do I need to liven up the plot, I need to come up with a purpose for this book. I shouldn’t have to wait until the third book to let all the major plot stuff happen. So, today, I’ll be brainstorming big. What’s the biggest setback my characters could face right now? What would make a happy ending seem impossible? Hopefully, I come up with a few things. Maybe I will throw in tornado-riding velociraptors, just to let myself get carried away. Because I need to get carried away. I need to take risks. I need to get excited about this story. Right now, it’s meh, and no one wants to read a meh story. Velociraptors riding tornadoes are not meh. [More sensibly, I will likely not throw in dinosaurs, but for the sake of thinking outside the box, I’m going to come up with something just as scary and badass.]

So NaNoers, and everyone else, while you’re writing your first draft, at least have in mind the point of your story. Once you have that, go big. Go bold. Go dangerous. Take risks, and don’t be afraid of writing about tornado-riding velociraptors, if such a thing could exist in your story world [and a frightening world that would be].

And while you’re here, what’s your NaNo story about? Two or three sentences should suffice. Good luck this month!


  1. This is quite the inspirational post. Thanks so much, Brooke. I'm a NaNoer this year, sort of pantsing it with a synopsis of the following for my YA dystopian: Macie is a Special, someone who gets called from her farming collective of New Festus to enjoy a week of fun and a chance to start a new life in New Apex. But she quickly discovers being a Special isn't all it's cracked up to be, not when she discovers the truth about Central Collective's leadership, her own faery heritage, the danger she poses to the world but is even more shocked to discover that her kiss releases her best friend's guardian angel form.

  2. That happens to me all the time! I hate, hate, HATE it! Thanks for this post. It has given me some more to think about.

  3. I don't think anyone can go wrong with velociraptors riding tornadoes. Just saying. :D