A Musing About Plot

(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: I Burn by Jeff and Casey Lee Williams)

Hey everyone,

I’m one for one on fulfilling my promise to write every day! Here’s to a good start.

Anyway, since I’ll be writing more, my posts will probably be shorter, and several of them will be more musings than lessons. For instance, today I was thinking about my current writing project and how unsure I am about the balance between brevity and comfortable pacing for plot.

So right now I’m working on a book. I think I said before that it was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but then I decided to cut out the fat and squeeze it into one book. And I’m liking the snappy pacing of this new version, of which I am almost a third of the way done.

On the other hand, the exposition is happening really quickly and in really large chunks. Without a few chapters to let my readers get acclimated to the world, I find myself putting everything they need to know in a (*cough cough plot device cough cough*) super-condensed school lesson that, even still, is peppered with other activity.

Pro – the story is moving forward at a rapid pace and it doesn’t leave any room for the reader to put the book down.

Con – all the main characters have already met one another and the reader feels like they need to ‘catch up’ on relationship context

Pro – the extraneous subplots used to fill space in the whole-novel version have been removed, expediting things.

Con – those subplots revealed a lot about the characters’ motivations and personalities, and now I feel like I’m getting less of that coming across in this version.

You can see I’m torn on the subject.

I’m actually starting to see this go the same way as the editing went with The Oasis, my short story – I have a long, overbloated version filled with all those bad writing devices, and then I rewrite as a too-terse, completely gutted version before combining the two in a hybrid that gives the right amount of exposition and understanding while still keeping the pace.

If I’m following that logic, it means that somewhere in the middle of these two extreme versions of the book, there’s a comfortable Goldilocks-style middle ground where the characters are allowed to shine through and – yeah, why not – there might even be some subplots, but the main story still moves along at a nice clip.

Until then, I’m just going to keep writing every day and hope to figure it out. If I do, I’ll let you know.

And to all my fans, a little treat – I’ll release the work-in-progress prelude chapter to the novel tomorrow. So stay tuned!

Yours, wishing he wasn’t in lab,

-R.R. Buck


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