That’s right. It doesn’t thicken.
I write and sometimes, I even write well. But I have a problem with my plots. They’re thin. They’re boring and predictable. They’re just… weak.
I have never made an outline for any story I’ve ever written. I think it would help dramatically (pun intended) but I can’t do it… because I can never come up with enough of a plot.
I’ll explain what I mean. Here is the plot of every story I’ve ever written, pretty much.
Boy meets girl.
Problems and complications.
Happily ever after.
Now, this might be okay provided the ‘problems and complications’ part is compelling… that things happen… things that could destroy lives, break hearts, break legs. And this is where I fail.
I usually come up with a story idea from one or two scenes my brain gave me. And that seems a fine way to start. But from there, I’m not good at creating a whole story… with truly complicated complications. Everything tends to be a little too neat. And I don’t think I’ve ever not ended with happily ever after.
And I know why.
I have a lot of chaos in my head. I’m generally an unsettled mess. Writing is therapeutic and it works for me when I write myself into a world where things aren’t so messy… where things actually go right… where happily ever after is a real thing. But that’s not super fascinating. Except to me. (Yes, I read and reread my own work all the time. And I love to do it. Sometimes I make little edits along the way, but mostly I just read. Is that strange? Egotistical? Sad?)
What does all of this mean? I have the ability to write… maybe even write well… but I don’t have the ability to come up with strong plots.
What does that make me? Half a writer? Part of being a writer has to be having great ideas, right? Having twists and surprises. Dreaming up interesting or emotionally-charged or shocking plots (or some combination thereof). And all of that while still being me… still doing my thing… romance, relationships, and all the emotions that go with them.
I may have a natural ability to perform the literal act of writing, but without a strong plot, I’m like a cake decorator who isn’t a great baker. I can make ‘it‘ look pretty, but without a delicious ‘it’, I’ll never have a complete masterpiece.
If the best I can do is the anti-chaotic writing I tend toward to escape my real life, doesn’t it get boring? Too sweet… too much frosting, not enough cake? I may be content with that, but I don’t think it’s good enough to serve my guests (especially if I ever have paying guests… ha).
But… I’m not even content with that anymore. I want more to the story. I just can’t come up with it. Maybe I’m not cut out for this… being a ‘writer’… a title I still struggle with because when I think ‘writer’, I think of someone who is published or seriously striving to get there… not someone like me who just writes but would only ever get published if someone found my blog and loved me so much that (s)he wanted to publish me on the spot. (Ha! I’m fucking hilarious.)
Aside: Maybe I’m also not cut out for writing because my last paragraph contains an epically long run-on sentence.
The thing is… I want to make an outline. I actually love shit like that! (Nerd.) But I want an outline that’s more than the three lines above. One with more than the few scenes I come up with. One with a great story behind it… with plenty of interesting, compelling twists and surprises. I want to refer back to it and swim effortlessly from one plot point to another. I’ve got the swimming down. But I don’t want to hop from start to finish over one neat little wave. I want to veer off course and maybe run out of breath and strength. I want to ride the bigger waves… even if it’s the harder path… even if I still end up at the same place in the end. And maybe I’d even end up someplace different.
But really… how the fuck do I come up with more plot? It’s either in me or it’s not.
Someone is going to tell me to read. It’s not going to help… not right now. I’ve got a problem with that lately. Every fucking book I pick up bores me to death. And I know they’re good books… it’s not them… it’s me. (Dammit, I used a fucking cliché!) Yep… lately, reading books bores me. What the hell happened to me? I’ve had months where I’ve read nearly a book a day!
Aside: I’ve never fully understood the ‘writers have to read’ thing. I (normally) read anyway… but… if reading helps one write or write better, how, exactly, does that work? You can’t just steal the ideas from the author of the book you’re reading. Maybe it helps when you’ve got your own plot but you can’t find the words? But I’m in the opposite situation. Not enough plot.
If I just don’t have it in me to come up with stronger plots or enough plot for a really good story, what the fuck do I put in the outline? The one that I know would help me so very much? The few little scenes I dreamt up? They’re not enough.
I’m not going to stop writing… because I need it. But I want more.
I do have a pretty outline template. Too bad it’s empty.
©2017 what sandra thinks