“You Can Build A Novel, Short Story, or Screenplay Plot from Beginning to End, Even If You Don’t Know What You Want to Write About Yet!”
- Have you written a stack of 30-page novel-starts that have stalled?
- Written short stories that trail off into… “and then I killed them all” because you can’t figure out a GOOD ending?
- Are you stuck in the vast morass of a novel’s middle?
- Or do you have the whole first draft done, with the sinking feeling that something’s wrong with the story, but you don’t know what, or where?
Have you been told that “plot is dead”?
You wouldn’t be the first person fed that line of crap.
I heard it. Believed it, too. Except every bit of plotless crap I wrote got rejected pretty much by return mail so fast it made my head spin.
Back in the days before the Internet, the ONLY way to submit your work was to mail a physical copy of it to ONLY one place at a time, and if you wanted your manuscript back, you paid postage both ways…
…An expensive proposition for a divorced mom of two working Baylor weekends, lemme tell you.
And at the point where you started seeing your damn manuscripts defying the laws of physics by being rejected before they’d even arrived, with grumpy scrawls on rejection slips that said “THIS ISN’T A STORY!!!” and “We don’t buy slice of life” and “Your writing is good but NOTHING HAPPENS,” you started to get the sneaking suspicion that maybe plot isn’t quite as dead as some folks out there would have you believe.
Mood pieces and ‘slice of life’ and pretty little bits of angsty emo worked great for me in high school—I got top grades and rave reviews from my teachers. I was good at grammar, I could write ‘pretty’, and I thought it might be fun to be famous.
(You are now invited to laugh your ass off at me. I’m laughing at myself back then, believe me.)
I didn’t go to college, though. Didn’t have the money, and couldn’t see how I could make one of those massive student loans pay off with a bachelor’s degree that didn’t translate to a job.
Instead I got married and earned my associate degree in nursing from my local community college within a few months of each other, passed my boards on the first try (they were really, really hard, and I studied my ass off with a couple of equally desperate-for-work classmates…)
And from age 21 to 31, I was a registered nurse.
Which is not most folks’ path to becoming professional writers. Hell, writing for money hadn’t even been something I’d looked at as a possible job when I was a teenager and even heading into adulthood, because of the whole “starving artist, starving writer” image (generally not a myth, by the way), and the knowledge that I was going to have work at a real job if I wanted to eat.
I only really got serious about writing fiction for a living because I read an article by Anne McCaffrey (I think it was in Writer’s Digest) in which she said writing fiction was the way she paid bills while staying home with her kids.
And I only remembered this article after a horrific tragedy came through my ER when I was twenty-four, when I saw what could happen to kids when their parents weren’t at home watching over them, or weren’t paying close enough attention.
And I remembered my great grades in English back in high school, and thought about Anne McCaffrey writing her brilliant Pern novels, and thought, “I could do that.”
[Cue more raucous laughter here…]
ANYWAY… it took me seven years from the time I got serious to the time I sold my first two poems…
And a handful of months after that, my SECOND novel sold the first time out to the first place I sent it, a month to the day after I mailed it out the door.
(The first novel—the one I learned on—died a horrible death after costing me a fortune in postage and making me realize, after years of revising it, and after finally getting an offer for $600 for it, that I didn’t want to ever see that damn novel or write in that damn genre again).
And only about a year after the publication of the second novel I wrote, though it was the FIRST novel I sold—the award-winning Fire in the Mist—I got my first three-book deal, put my nursing license on mothballs—and became a stay-at-home mom.
In time to save my own two kids.
Yeah. Turned out that for me, being being a stay-at-home mom who was home for them was a ‘make-or-break’ thing.
Anyway. I only sold my novels because I taught myself how to plot and revise—two process that, combined, took me that whole seven years—and more than a hundred rejection slips (and all the postage to mail all those manuscripts, and get back all those rejections).
Really big fun there, lemme tell you.
If you have a highly analytical mind and are willing to throw yourself against the wall until the wall surrenders, and if you’re willing to dissect every single rejection you get back, and see what you did from story to story that made the responses you got better or worse, you can totally figure out plotting on your own.
Or you can spend a few bucks, skip the seven years of beating your head against walls, and just use the process I figured out.
Plotting doesn’t need to be a mystery to you. It’s a logical, reasonably direct, step-by-step process in which you consider the story you want to write, the people you want to write it about, the troubles you want to throw at them, and the place you want them to exist in…
And you might need a month or two to learn my process, and a lot of practice to get good at it (probably NOT seven years worth, though)… Because…
When you have the step-by-step instructions, the worksheets, and the friendly, private community of fellow fiction-writers who are going through this process right along with you, you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
And you’ll have fun doing it.
You have everything you need within you to start plotting good stories today.
With Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic, you’ll:
Choose and use the right structure for your story
Overflow with story ideas using twenty fun, easy tools
Organize your plot before you write, while still keeping it flexible and exciting
Adapt your story to great ideas you have while you’re writing
Fix problem plotting as you write the book and even when you’re revising it
Deal with late, great ideas and your stubborn Muse without getting bogged down in endless rewriting
And much more
In Create A Plot Clinic, every plotting tool includes a description, a demonstration, and an exercise. You may need three or four days to get a brand-new working plot in order if you’re just getting started. However, if you’ve been writing for a while–or if you’re determined–you can have enough plot to start writing your book in about a day.
Novelist, Writing Course Creator