No, I haven't lost my mind. Well, a little, but that's beside the point.
So, I was reading this article and, being as I've now passed my three years as a writer point (mid-October), I was feeling a bit snide when I read the title. I thought, "Yeah, I've written so many novels... I don't need to read this over-simplified advice on how to write a novel." I scoffed. *Wendy tsks self*
Here is the article: How to Create a Story.
To create a good story, you must first understand what a story is. I have a simple formula:
"Somebody wants something and has a hard time getting it."
Now, if you're like me, you're thinking, "It's not that simple and even if it is, so what?"
So what? SOOOO WHATTT? I give you gold, and you dare say, "SO WHAT?" GOLD!
Actually, that's exactly what I thought. Then, I boiled down the novel I'm preparing to write for NaNoWriMo:
A Mused: An artist wants peace and inspiration; an unusual girl he meets near the lake is going to make sure neither comes without a price... in fact, he might not even survive to see either.
My mouth dropped open, and I thought, "But that's like a tagline. That's sort of brilliant. It can't work every time... can it? But... really? Can it?"
Secrets of Skin and Stone: Piper wants to know if she's to blame for her dog's death... and if it's not her or her OCD... what dark secrets are hidden in Hidden Creek, Alabama. (Alternately... Gris's side would be: Gris wants to solve the mysteries of the neighbor girl and keep her alive--all while keeping the monster inside him hidden.)
I then mentally ran a bunch of my novels through this. It was fascinating. They all could be summarized with that same formula.
Still, what use is that for someone who clearly can write a complete novel? Writing the novel isn't my problem. On the other hand, I'm going back under the knife for yet another revision of Secrets of Skin and Stone. Sarah and I have been going back and forth on a few scenes I want to keep, and she says they need to contribute to the narrative in some way. (Isn't the fact that I like them and want to hug them enough? NO? Wuh? Why?) As I examined these scenes in light of the boiled down plotlines above... *coughs* they may not further the plot or entirely contribute to my MCs' main driving forces (those things they want, but are having trouble reaching....)
One of the downsides to pantsing is that you end up with these straggling scenes or narrative fills where you needed a plotpoint or scene to get you to the next scene or to fill in exposition. These aren't final copy scenes, but they're hard to cut completely or replace because they're entrenched. *sighs* I need to get rid of or fix a bunch of those in Secrets of Skin and Stone. I may be talking a lot about revising for the first part of November as I'm doing what I hope is my last revision.
Anyway, I found that article interesting and useful, and I hope you did too.
Happy Halloween, everyone.