How We Write: Our Secret–Plot, Revise, Plot, Revise…

The REAL secret to writing best selling novels… That’s what Jenni and I are talking about on How We Write. And what we’re saying is, THERE IS NO SHORT CUT. Eh-hem. Sorry, didn’t realize I was yelling.You might have noticed by now that this sort of thing torks me a bit. Folks who give/sell sure-fired advice, keys to the kingdom, THE WAY to your published Eden. They don’t often work. They tend to demotivate over time, not lead us closer to our overall objective–success.

success failure

Too often once you follow these ten easy steps, you realize there’s nothing of substance on the other side. And the guru you’ve gotten the list from has mysteriously moved on to giving advice like “how to be the most popular tweeter on the planet,” and you begin to realize that this person’s objective is to give advice. Because THAT’S what he/she thinks will make them a best selling author. God forbid that the person giving advice about writing personally follow through on any of what he/she’s saying and get back to writing novels themselves.

I exaggerate. There’s some great advice out there, and you should soak it all in. But always remember that this is work. This isn’t a race. And you can’t force your way into being “successful” at it by following a set of rules that promises to be the answer to all your problems.

We’re not selling quick and easy in HoWW. We’re talking about our processes (because Jenni’s is different than mine), and how you need to discover your own. We spent a month exploring what character means to a real, in-progress novel. March has been about plotting and structure, and Jenni wraps up the discussion by touching once more on narrative structure, and going just a little deeper than before. But she’s also ranting, like me ;o) Because the point we try to make in each post is that narrative structure and conflict lock and character plotting and so forth are just frameworks in which your story needs to work. They’re NOT your story, and too many people will tell you differently, and that gets us cranky.

Your story is what happens on the page and in the reader’s mind, once the list of things that makes a good story, mechanically, are taken care of. Your story is your voice and imagination and whether or not it connects with the  mind your characters and plot touches. Your story will take more than ticking off plot points and conflict and character on your to-do list. A successful story comes from plotting (planning), writing, rewriting and more plotting (planning), then rewriting some more.

Writing successfully takes an ammount of work that few are willing to embrace.

success ladder

We’re here to share how we’re going about doing it, and we’re excited you’re along for the ride!

So, scoot on over to Jenni’s today for some structure talk and more ranting. Tomorrow, I’m be doing the motivational speaker thing over on Kelly Stone’s blog, so be sure to check that out. Then come back to HoWW in April to see what we mean when we say revising.

I’m kicking things off next Wednesday, by talking about how I take the planning and plotting into a rewriting phase that, for me, is the most creative part of my process. I’m just back from a great Saturday morning with the Central New York RWA group talking rewriting, so I’m reved up and raring to go ;o)

And, as always, let us know what you think and what you’d like to hear more of.

Here’s a summary of where HoWW has been in Jan. and Feb. Take a look back, as we prepare to look forward!

March’s HoWW plot speak:

February’s Character (and critique/brainstorming) posts:

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5 Responses to “How We Write: Our Secret–Plot, Revise, Plot, Revise…”

  1. katt says:

    Hey Anna,

    I finally “get it”. I thought as a pantser I was one step further along the road to success because I didn’t have to sit and “agonize” over silly things like plot and character and arcing and all that silly stuff. The stories just spill out of my fingertips and I’m thrilled with them.
    But this week I received a second rejection on a requested full. And with the “kind no thank you” came a very explicit explanation which I felt down to my toes.
    I could clearly see what this agent was trying to tell me.
    She didn’t say I had no shot at a writing career. The issues she and her collegues had with my manuscript were clearly issues that wouldn’t have been there if I’d spent time actually looking at the finished product and identifying the pieces of the whole.
    Clearly, I need People like you who take the time to help the rest of us LEARN.
    thank you.

    • Anna says:

      Wow, Katt. Thanks for the words of encouragement for what we’re doing with HoWW, and for sharing your journey. You’re in an amazing place in your journey–receiving and completing full manuscript requests. I know you’re not where you want to be yet. You want the agent to take you on as a cleint. You want to sell. But you’re on your way. Trust me. And if you stay committed to improving your writing and your craft and your process, you WILL get there!

  2. Pam Asberry says:

    Great post, Anna. My next book is going to be so much better than the first one. Because I am going to start it with a PLAN. Thank you for all your help!

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