Blowing Up the Plot


Every so often, some well-meaning person asks, "So, Melissa, how is the writing going?" Sometimes, it reminds me of the questions I used to get about grad school, with the underlying question of "aren't you done yet?" If I look a bit deer-in-the-headlights when you ask, that would be why. I'm always happy to have the question even if I don't always have a great answer.

One piece of the writing journey for me is taking classes. I know, *huge* surprise. Most I take through the wonderful Sisters in Crime Guppy Chapter offerings. This past month, I took a course on revision with Linda Rodriguez (author of Every Secret ThingEvery Hidden Fear, and Every Broken Trust, among others). During the course, I worked on revising pieces of my zero draft of "Lake Effect" (or at least that's the title for the next five minutes), a contemporary/urban fantasy set around Lake Superior.

As a zero draft/first draft, I knew the story was rough with lots of underdeveloped plots and characters. But I felt ok about the overall plot and where it would go in further revisions....Until I got to the assignment to diagnose the structural issues of the draft, including how the plot works and how to further develop subplots. Then I spent about an hour smacking my forehead about what I was seeing. My main plot was nice. It probably would have worked ok. But it also could have been plunked down into any setting (Lake Superior, Kansas City, a rock in the middle of the desert) and worked. My woefully underdeveloped subplot? Oh, that has Lake Superior written all over it. There's no way to tell it anywhere else. It has lake monsters and the Witch of November and all sorts of fun Lake Superior lore. It's the type of plot that I want to read. 

And so, I blew up my main plot. Pieces of it remain and pieces of it will get moved to what will hopefully be book 2 in the series.  Then, I got to work on that former-subplot-now-main-plot. Although I would have preferred to have had this little revelation about six months ago or that it had happened to a short story instead of my novel, it's a journey. I learned things. I get to write fun new scenes that include pieces of fabulous Great Lakes legends. I'm beyond thrilled that the Witch of November will get a bigger piece of the pie in the plot. She's fast turning into one of my favorite characters.

So that's what's happening in my writing world. I'll try not to run in the other direction if you ask me how the book is going.