Thursday, April 15, 2010

Plot Twists are like Icky Little Monsters with Green Heads...

Well, I’ve just been busy, busy, busy! So busy in fact that I’ve had hardly any time in the last few days to update my blog or do anything else for that matter. Usually by the time I actually get a moment free, it’s too late to get on the internet, so I’ve just had to make do with working on my novel (which is by no means a punishment) or by doing homework (which I hate and therefore consider a punishment ). And the whole while, my characters have been screaming at me from the computer screen for the last week:

My characters: “Alright, we’ve been on the same night now for two chapters already… when are you going to do something new?"

Me: *Typing furiously* “Yes, I know! Just hold on a little longer…”

My Characters: *Starting to get angry* “We’ve been holding already!”

(And yes, I talk to my characters.)

The truth of the matter is that just recently I had an idea for a new plot twist which wasn’t originally there… and which is causing all sorts of problems. For one thing, most of the scenes are serious and even a little sinister, and that makes night the perfect time setting for them. However it’s true that I’ve been stuck on the same night for the last two chapters; a lot has happened, and this night is starting to feel like it will never end.

So… should I break it up? Should I throw in another scene in the day this time, and write my sinister scenes at a later time when it is night once more? I just don’t know; I can’t decide whether it would help or hurt the flow of the story.

Have I outlined? Yes, but that’s not the problem. This isn’t writer’s block… this is something totally different, but just as forbidding. And so now we finally get to the real subject of this post:

What do you do when a new plot twist interferes with your story?

Plot twists are complicated things. They’re a lot like pets that start out being sweet, timid, and manageable (even cuddly sometimes), but that can grow really fast into something large, wild, and unpredictable. Sometimes one will show up in the original draft of a story and rearrange the whole tale, but it’s usually alright with a first draft. When they get really annoying is when they show up in the middle of a final rewrite and demand attention.

Say, for instance, that a character shows up that wasn’t there before and demands to be noticed, which demands new scenes, which in turn demands a new plot twist. In my case the character is a very mean general who is trying to find and capture my MC. My MC gets away, but one of his contacts gets captured instead; the problem is, I can’t just leave the man in jail, which means I have to plan a rescue mission. BIG TWIST: My MC cannot be a part of the rescue mission; he can’t even know about it. This means that I have to write the rescue from another Character’s POV, which isn’t exactly hard but can get tricky.

A person who isn’t a writer might look at this and think that writing all that into the story wouldn’t be too hard.

Non-Writer Person: “So, just write out a scene like what you have listed above and walla! Problem solved.

Me: “Ah, but it isn’t quite that easy, Non-Writer Person.”

Non-Writer Person: “It isn’t?”

Me: “Well, why don’t you try it sometime?”

The truth is, it’s not easy. Writing a new plot twist into what was thought to be an already completed story involves not only time, but timing. That’s right; you have to write it into the story with just the right timing in order for it to fit. Which leads us back to my problem; should I continue writing these scenes on the same night in the story, or transfer these scenes to another night? Would it make that much of a difference?

I still haven’t decided what to do about it just yet, but I would like to ask if anyone else has had the same problem and what you did to overcome it?


Seth Skogerboe said...

I have not yet had a problem such as that, but I have an idea/possible answer for you. Why don't you make it rain the next day? Throw everything into shadow? The ideal terrain would be a forest... but it COULD work in other places...

Amy Max said...

I talk to my characters all the time. I think they are getting annoyed at me. :D

I know what you mean about plot twists and all of their silliness. Mine isn't going to be that epic, but it's going somewhere in the middle, I think. That is, if I ever stop reworking the first chapter. Ah, ideas come at the wrong times for me, it seems. They make life complicated.

And as for sinisterocity, I would spread it out throughout the place. You don't want your audience to be all sorts of freaked out in one go. Besides, if you have this massive amount of "sinister" in one spot, and then little pockets of "almost as sinister, but not so much" afterwords, you may kind of lose your audience there. I don't know, that's just my thought on it. cheers!

Star-Dreamer said...

Actually, I do like the thought of making it rain... that might work really well for what I have in mind. My characters are really getting tired of me dragging this one single night out; I need to make it day again, and rain just might do the trick. Thanks! :)