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Close, but no cigar

cartoon from

Well, I've thrown in the towel. The Novel-In-Progress just ain't working. I asked my bloggy friends for Help a little while ago, and you lovely lot confirmed what I already knew in m'heart of hearts. My plot - which seemed nothing short of brilliant at the moment of conception - just didn't have legs. Well it did, but they were short, hairy little buggers, not capable of offering much in the way of support. A further thrashing out of the finer points with Lovely Husband was the final nail in the coffin. 'It just doesn't sound interesting enough,' he said thoughtfully, and I couldn't argue with that. He's never wrong, annoyingly.

Plotting is a real weakness of mine. It's frustrating. I have a vivid imagination, and I KNOW a good story when I read one, and I read a lot, but while I get lots of Ideas (thank goodness I do...otherwise I might as well give up and train as a plumber - which would actually be really useful because we've just paid a fortune to have our shower fixed. I'm sure the chap just picked a sensible figure out of the air and quarupled it. Since it was put about that plumbers are rarer than hen's teeth, round here, they've started swanking about thinking they own the planet, and they could probably afford to...not that I hold a grudge or anything)...anyway, I digress. To the point where I've forgotten what I was babbling about. Oh yes. Ideas. Plenty of 'em. Trouble is, I can't seem to sustain them. I chuck all these balls in the air, think up some clever plot twists - even work out roughly how it will all end, then somehow everything topples down, like a house of cards, and that's when I start editing and tweaking and fluffing endlessly, trying to avoid the truth, because I know it's all going to end in tears. Mine. Well, not literally. I've toughened up a lot since an agent told me the plot of my First-Ever-Novel was 'tired.' I know how it felt.

I've had a lot of feedback over the last couple of years...mostly 'cos I kept sending that damn manuscript out like a matchmaker trying to fix up a difficult friend. I can write, apparently -unless those replies were the equivalent of that oft'used breakup line "look it's not you, it's me." There's nothing wrong with m'pacing, structure, dialogue or characterisation, it would seem. But those are as nothing, without a decent plot. You might as well try and bake a cake without using butter. Or flour. (With my track record, you'll know that I already have).

Anyway. It's really hard to chuck out what you've already written, which is why I carried on worrying away at it. In the process, what's actually happened is I've wittled my first two chapters into a New Story. Yes. I have another Idea. This one, dare I say it, seems to have better legs. Long and sinewy. Lightly tanned. Toned, even. Unlike my own. Not thoroughbred racehorse, exactly. More well-bred greyhound. It might even go the distance.

I won't hold my breath though. With my luck it'll keel over the minute the gun goes off.

(I plead guilty m'lud, to a blatant overuse of analogies in this post. Please don't fine me. I've had a plumber in recently...)


Tom Foolery said…
Oh bugger! Clarkey you're such a natural comedy writer. Keep scratching your head and sharpen those pencils it will happen. Trust me, I can see it in my crystal ball! Gypsy TFX
Alis said…
You poor thing - but you brave thing too, it takes real courage to abandon something which has taken up a lot of your life. But so much better to be good at all the things you are good at than to be a wonderful plot generator who basically couldn't write. Hope the new legs get you there really soon!
I wish you huge amounts of luck and look forward to sharing in the journey via the blog...
SpiralSkies said…
The fact that you have ideas aplenty and can clearly write well means you'll strike gold in the end...

The news legs sound great. Pop some thermals on 'em to keep them warm :0)
Sarah Dunnakey said…
New Story sounds very sexy (well at least it's got good legs which according to my mum can get you a long way). Plotting's a bugger isn't it? I keep hoping against hope that convincing characters, strong dialogue, and a sprinkling of humour will carry my story along but everytime I read a good book - light or 'literary' - I can't help but see that it's the plot that makes it.

You've made a brave decision but sounds like it's the right one - good luck with this one - you're a brilliant writer, as all you bloggees will agree, so its just got to work!
Lane said…
Gawd. I sympathise. I'm a very unplotty writer too.

I echo exactly what the others have said. You've taken a brave step and with all your strong, and extremely obvious, writerly attributes, it will all come together. Honest it will:-)
HelenMH said…
I have the 'lost the plot' problem too, even - worryingly - with short stories! I'm on my third attempt at a novel because I could never really see the plot with the other two. None of your efforts are lost though, they're all helping you towards the one that will make it x
Maddie Moon said…
Sorry to hear this, Karen, but as Helen says none of your hard work will be wasted. It's just taking you a step nearer to your final goal.

The new idea sounds like a real goer, good luck with it!

Your post has struck fear into my heart, though. A plot? Is it absolutely necessary, I'm wondering? Aaargh..
L-Plate Author said…
Wow, me and you are so alike, aren't we! May you take bigger steps with your new story and get to the end of its journey xx
womagwriter said…
Good luck with the new novel, Karen. You have so much going for you, writing-wise. One day one of your ideas will be The One, and will have legs up to its armpits.
Thanks for all your lovely comments - they mean a lot and make me feel extra motivated :o)

I shall acknowledge each and every one of you when the day comes...!!
Casdok said…
I admire anyone who can write.
I love your mountain cartoon, i may have to borrow it sometime if thats ok?!
Debs said…
I love the cartoon, so apt for how I feel too.

Well done for being so brave and best of luck for the new story. I've had to scrap thousands of words for T&OL but it's made it much better - will have to see if it's good enough though.
Of course you can Casdok - plenty more at Dave Walker's site :o)

Debs - It's a shame isn't it, but a bit of purging can be good for the soul!
Faye said…
I loved your line about sending your manuscript out like a matchmaker--E-Harmony for writers! Good luck on the new direction.
soubriquet said…
As a plumber, I wonder what we as a group, or sub-group have done to vex you. Some of us are quite nice really.
I'm having trouble glueing words together too, by the way. Never mind a novel, I think I'd struggle with a shopping list right now.
I used to be a librarian in a dark mysterious uber-library, the National Lending Library for Science and Technology, later subsumed into the British Library. It was an immense maze of a place, built into an old wartime munitions factory, full of clanking conveyors and spooky passages, underground stores... And a huge modern building...with a leaky roof.
The whole place was like a level in a grim video game like 'Quake'... Groaning monsters around every corner.
It was not all science and tech though... And being part of a department so secretive that nobody else knew what we were supposed to be doing, I could, armed with trolley and clipboard, go anywhere... including all the best hiding places, wall myself in with books, and read all day. Joy!
Your muse will return, I'm sure.

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