Crash, bang, wallop!
Fire conjures up many images in our mind. Usually heat, warmth and relaxation but it can also lead us down the path of danger, angst and anxiety. These are all the emotions a writer has in a very short period of time when they are creating an archplot structure.
Armed with post-its and scrap paper, I devour sections of Bird by Bird and listen to Anne Lamott’s voice whispering in my ear as it soothes away my frustrations and fears.
Recently, the fantastic Ingrid Sundberg’s diagram was brought to my attention by Peter Bunzl and Clare Helen Welsh from the wonderful world of SCBWI. She created a diagram that indicates where your story plot should emerge from, where it should splash about a bit in the warm waters of creative thinking before it dives back under again after a final chapter display. I say ‘should’….
Picture the scene. I started off very early this morning, full of determination and jovial Breakfast Club banter. I willed myself to see it through.
I know exactly where my story needs to start and I even have the tools to help me get there. So why can’t I write it down? Why is it every time I think I have it completed in my head, I pick up my pen to summarise the plot and it all comes out like a great big jar of bad characters and plot holes the size of Arthur’s Seat?
I take a deep breath and calm down. Stumbling over the plot blocks and tripping over my petted lip into my cold tea will get me no-where. So I give my cat a reluctant hug (on his part, not mine) and start again.
I can see where I need to go now. The mist is clearing and the sun is shining (not literally, its raining again) on my prose ideas. I take my time. Baby steps.
So, here you go:
ACT ONE – visualise your main characters on the deck of a ship.
ACT TWO – pirates have pulled alongside and have lit an explosive device they are about to throw on board. ‘Help!’ she/he/they cry out. You sit there and ponder the resolution of your story and have another cuppa.
ACT THREE – now, save them. Go on. Be their knight in shining armour, save them from the blast, flames and choking smoke. It’s a bit dramatic but you know what I mean.
I start. And before I know it, I’ve finished. Nobody died in my book that shouldn’t have. Nobody appeared by magic in a chapter because I changed my mind half way through the summary OR ‘oh, that sounds like a good thing for X to do’ as I completely rearrange my thoughts. No, not today my friends. I was ruthless and did myself proud. I may be covered in orange and green felt tip pen but I survived the creation of my very first MG book plot structure doo da.
There are no fires in any holes today. Relax. It’s all good.