and… the plot thins.

writing.

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.

*sigh*

I do have a pretty outline template. Too bad it’s empty.


©2017 what sandra thinks

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About what sandra thinks

Sandra is a writer, blogger, poet, artist, emotional disaster. She thinks far too much and sleeps far too little. Sandra lives in the Northeastern U.S. but dreams of an oceanfront home in Hawaii where she could learn to surf. She loves music, brutal honesty, coffee, and the color black. She hates insincerity, beer, whipped cream, and facebook. And she is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person.
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42 Responses to and… the plot thins.

  1. magarisa says:

    A big dilemma indeed. Wish I could help, but I’m also not good at coming up with compelling plots. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon says:

    Keep going! Keep writing! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m no writer. I have no sage advice for you. I know, less than useless, right? I’d consult some of your fellow writers, maybe Doc in particular. I think, though, that keeping your happy ending thing is fine, just throw crazy shot into the mix in the middle. Maybe? What the fuck do I know? 😃😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha 😃 Yeah… that’s the thing… I can never come up with anything crazy enough. Well, to me anyway. Hahaha crazy enough for me… that’s funny… being that I am crazy. Maybe I am just boring!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No. You’re not boring. Picture the most bizarre episode of Five-O, or make it some sorta horror/ghost thing. Maybe an evil cat wreaking havoc on a town, ala Pet Cemetery?

        I know, I know. Less than useless. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

        • 🙂 It’s fine… you’re kind of even trying. Those things… the mystery, murder, horror… they’re not really my thing. I don’t think I’d be comfortable writing it which would probably make it turn out terrible. I would love to stay with human relationship type stuff but just have… more to my stories. Like… I don’t think I could do murder well, but I could do death. In my fiction, I mean. 😀 Just I should clarify.

          I guess what I’m saying is… I still want to be me… but I want to have more twisty or more involved stories. Maybe I’m full of crap and what I write now is enough. But it doesn’t feel like it. When I read something I really like, what I think is… I could have written that! And it’s accurate… I could have written it. But come up with the idea in the first place? Not so much…

          Liked by 1 person

          • Pick Doc’s brain. I’m certain she wouldn’t mind. I bet she could help with tips and such too. I think what you write is enough. But, I get being critical of your own work. We are our own worst critics at times. 😏

            Liked by 1 person

            • I have talked to her about this before. But that was about a specific story… and she helped me with an idea for it… but I can’t be running to someone else for an idea whenever I don’t have one. What the hell kind of writer is that?

              Oh… btw… Meg will tell me to read. 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              • I don’t know man. I got nothin’. I know when I’m stuck, as a camera guy, I just start snapping pics. Eventually, the mojo comes around. Maybe just start writing down scenarios, no matter how bizarre. See what comes of it. Then work your words around the scenario? Just maybe, the mojo will cometh. Wish I had some better advice. 😕

                Liked by 1 person

                • It’s okay. That is something “they” say about writing… just write anything… 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • It really does work, for me and my particular medium, at least. Hope you get some quality tips. And not more bunk like I was dishing. 😃

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • 😀 I’m not having a problem with my current story… but I have an idea for another one… and I want to make a nice outline but I don’t have enough to go on… that’s what’s frustrating me right now.

                      The “just write” thing helps me if I’m having trouble coming up with the words. But for coming up with plot ideas, I don’t know that it helps as much.

                      I don’t really expect to find an answer… how can anyone help me have ideas? It’s my stupid head… either I have them or I don’t. And when I don’t, I wonder if I’m just not cut out for this whole writing thing. I guess it goes back to my feelings of worthlessness.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Stop that. That’s ridiculous. You’re a writer. No doubt. You said yourself that you feel the need to. Published or not, it’s part of you and who you are.

                      And you most certainly aren’t worthless!!!

                      Liked by 1 person

  4. We should do an online writers group and just bounce ideas off each other. I usually have trouble with the same things and have thought of joining a group. But the thought of one more obligation depresses me. Well, that wasn’t very helpful, was it? Sorry

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it’s a good idea, though! It is helpful! I’ve always been too shy to join anything like this. (Plus all my issues thinking I’m not good enough don’t help!) But if we started something… that might be different. And it doesn’t have to be a huge obligation. But I have no clue what writers’ groups do anyway… lol. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. ugh it’s so hard to keep a story going! I will have great ideas for like a chapter here, or a chapter there, but no way of connecting them. And the ending? I suck at endings. I wrote a story in grade 8 or something and literally ended it as “and then it all went black” – my teacher didn’t appreciate it. Apparently, I needed a “conclusion”, not just a POOF it’s done. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hate endings, too, but my reason is that I get so caught up in my characters that I never want it to end… even when I come up with a great ending. I wrote a post about this a LONG time ago… like, it was one of my first posts ever. I came to the conclusion that I need to suck it up and end the story where the natural ending is and if I insist on not letting go of my characters, I can write more just for me. But endings are often the hardest part for me… even with an idea!

      I like the “then it all went black”… of course, depending on the context! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marquessa says:

    So much to say…you are a writer Sandra and a great one! It’s as simple as that. Readers who love HEAs will never find your stories boring or not twisty enough. Tropes do not change but we as writers decide how we want to weave our stories around them. I have a plot problem and outline aversion too (a huge one) that I’m trying to conquer. For the how-to on outlining, I’ll email you the 2 books that seem the most helpful to me. And as for plots, I “try” to use Stephen King’s “what if” approach…meaning I take the idea I have ask myself “what would happen if she/he did the complete opposite of what is expected of them”…🤔Remember, I am NO expert….

    Liked by 2 people

    • First, thank you so much! You’re the best. 🙂 I have never thought you have any problem with plot! Ahh, see! Maybe neither of us has as much of a problem with it as we think we do. (Our own worst critics and all of that…) We obviously have readers… that’s what I try to tell myself. I don’t know how many of my followers are actually reading my fiction, but someone is and I’d think they’d stop if they didn’t enjoy it. (Or maybe they’re just being nice? 😀 ) I’m sure I expect too much of myself. We tend to do that…

      I would love the book suggestions. Thanks! And I love the Stephen King thing. I’ve never really thought that way before with the “what if”. It’s a bit of a different perspective and I think that may help me! I knew some brilliant person would say something to this post that would give me something to try. This sounds so simple but I really think it may make something click in my head. Who knows?! 🙂 ♥

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Marquessa says:

    Lol! I’ll email you that stuff. As for “what if”…what if Dani’s limo driver kidnapped her and no one could find her? What if during her disappearance her 2 men got into a major beat down at the wedding site in front of all guests? You see how much I like your love triangle!!!😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ohh….! Now I feel like I should to use that storyline! I think it might be better than any of the versions I had! I never would have thought of that… even thinking “what if”. I must be too caught up in the romance to think of stuff like that. I don’t know! It’s like I said in my post… everything’s always a little too neat.

      And I’m glad you like the love triangle! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Marquessa says:

    Lol! Feel free to use it if you like!😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Halycon Prana says:

    I’ve got a cool plot I have had kicking around in my head for 15 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Marquessa says:

    Hey Sandra. Just sent you that email. Have a good weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

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