#OTR50 Day 9: Plot is Not Enough

It is one of those evenings where I’m struggling a bit with the 365-day commitment. I know myself enough to know I have to stick with it. I need to start earlier in the evening. I need to not get distracted by email and Facebook and my newest television obsession. I need to learn to stick with it. To just write write write until something coherent emerges.

This is a lesson I’ve failed over and over again through the years. There have been sporadic times of writing throughout my life. Nothing coherent has emerged that I can pinpoint as my written voice. This project is what I believe will get me past this 49-year hurdle.

I was my most prolific from about 14 – 24. As you can imagine, those were also my most angst-filled years. My writing was cathartic and filled with emotional outbursts. Which likely explains why I preferred my poetry to my prose.

When I was a Junior in college, I went so far as to write the first two chapters of a novel. I had a plot and thematic idea that I still believe has merit. At the end of the second chapter, I hit a rode block. I crashed and burned. I totaled the vehicle of my authorship. I went back to poetry a few months later and have never gone back to attempting a multi-chapter story.

As with the poem mentioned in my earlier post on identity, the two chapters of that book from my 20-something life have been lost into the ether of time. They might exist in a handwritten notebook somewhere. It’s more likely that they’ve been recycled. Broken down into component parts and pressed back together into something new. Bleached clean of my authorship and transformed into paper for someone else’s stories.

Granted, I’d probably trash the past words even if I miraculously discovered them in an old box in my parent’s basement. I’m fairly certain that I now understand why I stopped.

The concept of that fiction work does still capture my interest. However, I’ve discovered something about myself over the years. Regardless of the genre, I prefer character-driven tales. Stories that are human relationship inspired.

Don’t get me wrong, a solid forward-moving plot is still critical to keep my interest. Regardless, to truly be captivated by a tale, I need to become personally invested in the characters. As was once described to me, I prefer a book that includes people I wish I knew in real life. Many of my favorite works of fiction include someone I would love to be able to invite over for dinner. . . or perhaps fight alongside in the zombie or alien apocalypse. Regardless of the plot, genre, setting, theme, etc. – If I can’t become invested in the characters I’m not invested in the story.

It has taken me almost 30 years beyond that book attempt to understand that if I want to go back to that novel, I need to first become invested with the people I plan to put inside my story. I need to create those three-dimensional friends that my potential audience will want to invite into their homes and minds.

This is what stopped my college-age self. This was the gaping hole that I missed.

How did I miss this seriously obvious gap in my effort for so long?

Easy-peasy answer to that question. I’m human.

It’s late in the evening and I’ll be heading to sleep shortly. Perhaps I can encourage my subconscious to cook up some characters while I rest and recoup for the night.

356 more days to go.



7 thoughts on “#OTR50 Day 9: Plot is Not Enough

  1. Haven’t found any boxes with your writings.
    And I am remembering your paintings and drawings more than your writings.


  2. Most of my writing was in High School. But there is absolutely a book I wrote about the Sesame when I was little. I found it a few years ago. . . and put it somewhere safe. Ha!


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