My plot is missing HUGE chunks.
Some plot-eating monster has come along and gobbled huge mouthfuls of my story and left me with odd bits and pieces that don’t quite fit together.
Where are these missing pieces?
How am I supposed to find them?
In desperation I have started picking apart some of my favourite children’s books; painstakingly summarising each chapter in the hope that it will help me figure out how a plot is put together.
So far I have picked apart the following:
- James and the Giant Peach (Roald Dahl)
- The BFG (Roald Dahl)
- The Last Wild (Piers Torday)
- The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas (David Almond)
- Inkheart (Conellia Funke)
It’s a risky strategy which can only end in one of two ways:
I come down with a severe case of Unworthiness and realise I was nuts to ever think I could ever write anything. Ever. The End.
I come down with a severe case of Genius, fire off the rest of the book in one evening, and skip off into the sunset with my manuscript tucked under my arm.
Guess which one has happened?
Luckily I’m in good company. David Walliams started re-reading the books he had loved as a child in preparation for writing his first children’s novel The Boy in the Dress:
“I devoured Stig of the Dump, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and – my absolute favourite – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This last one instantly made me want to give up writing. It was perfect.”
Hmm…maybe analysing children’s books isn’t such a great idea?
At least one good thing has emerged from this. Picking apart so many books has highlighted just how different they all are. Different voices. Different characters. Different plots.
There is no pattern. There is no magic formula. And that in itself is quite a liberating thought.
I’ve still got great chunks missing though.