Friday, July 26, 2013

Historyrectomy and Plotting Your Novel

My husband, who frequently reads health histories, often gets a good laugh out of peoples' creative spellings and interpretation of medicals. A rotator cuff surgery becomes surgery on a rotary cup, sounding like some civic award. Another term that confused me is "stent." Here in the west, the doctors say it like, "Stint." But it isn't a stint in jail, although the painful tubes they put certain places may make it feel like that.

Today a woman reported having a female procedure she wrote down as a "historyrectomy." After I finished laughing about painful ways to have your history removed, I thought that all of us, at times, may wish bad experiences could be surgically extracted.

Sorry,history removal isn't yet a real procedure. However, writers may at times need to do some serious surgery on our characters' life.

I'm doing a draft revision of my latest book. Yesterday I sat eating ice cream and feeling frustrated. I knew there was something wrong with my latest plot event. I've made some big revisions, but part of me still longs for the "history," or old parts of the story that no longer fit. I put down my spoon, picked up a notebook, and started writing questions:


  1. Is this event true to my character's true inner desires, or is it something I'm twisting to make fit?
  2. What are the main character's desires?
  3.  What will happen if he doesn't get them?


Then I tried some brainstorming alternate plot ideas based on advice Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette gave us at WIFYR in June, "Brainstorm three ideas, then pick the fourth. Don't go with the easy solution."

I brainstormed several ideas, once elaborating one idea and then suddenly writing, "bleh!" But as I wrote more ideas, I realized my character should have to do the hardest thing, not the one that helps me avoid having to research criminal law. (Teeny tiny plot hint).

 Martine Leavitt said we have to be open to our book and its characters enough to let go of our preconceived ideas of how we want the story to go. I've still got work to do. But stepping back and having the courage to do some historyectomizing (yes, I know it isn't a word) helps get my characters back where they want and need to be.

P.S. I have several blog drafts I need to post, including the final notes from the WIFYR conference. I'm still typing in a sling, and have other varied excuses too, but maybe this confession will help me finally get them edited and posted.

1 comment:

stephi k said...

It's nice to know you're struggling with some of the same things I am! Sometimes I hit an impasse in my plot (without always knowing) and will do ANYTHING to avoid writing. That's always my sign that something is wrong.