Getting a handle on plot points (or not)

Getting a handle on plot points

Last month I made great gains with my WIP (work in progress). I was super excited about my story. It was the big bright shiny thing that had consumed my creative mind for several months. I’ve been trying my hand at planning and plotting rather than pantsing my way through as I usually do, and it has been really helpful.

Then I hit the midpoint slump. AGAIN.

Just as I do with EVERY manuscript. I thought I’d escaped it this time around because of my newfound plotting abilities BUT then I shifted my midpoint (also known as plot point two) to later in the story, so that it has now become plot point three. I decided that the plot point I’d planned for the midpoint was best to occur at the 75% mark as the story was all leading to that point. It would create a stronger arc for my protagonist and it would add to the rising tension. Of course, that left a big gaping hole in the middle of my manuscript.

Cue * falling into a well of self-pity and hopelessness*

Okay, it wasn’t quite that dire, but I did feel STUCK. What was I to do? My wonderfully, loosely planned structure had just been thrown out the window and I had no idea what to write next.

In the two weeks that followed, I avoided sitting at my desk and took up re-reading my notes, aimlessly editing… okay PROCRASTINATING.  I researched plot points, got out my reference books, googled, read blog posts, wrote notes and crossed them out again… started to overthink everything and wondered what on earth I was doing! My big shiny idea was starting to lose it’s appeal and in turn I was plagued with that nasty condition known oh so well to writers. Self-doubt.

The notion of plot points continues to elude me. It’s something that I can read about and read about and then just when I think I *get it* the notion escapes me again. It’s something that I struggle to get my head around. When I sort of understand the plot point for one story, I struggle to transfer that to another story. Of course, my stories do have plot points. I just find it difficult to pull them out, name them, identify them. Plan them.

I find it especially difficult to plot internal conflict. Most of my stories are character-driven not plot-driven, it is the character’s emotional experiences that shift and transform and I usually don’t know what shape that will take until I go on the journey with them. So even though I can plan out “what happens” in the story (i.e. external conflict) it is how that character responds and interacts to the conflict that is difficult to flesh out until I really know my character. Make sense?

Alas, I decided I had to stop procrastinating plotting and just keep on writing. I wrote about that here, when I hit the midpoint slump in my last manuscript. Surprise, surprise, the midpoint problem sorted itself out and now I’m on my way toward the third plot point with a much stronger story than what was initially planned. Well, I hope so anyway. A writer can never be overly confident about these things.

In the past two weeks I’ve made some great gains in word count and I’m currently at 52,000 words. I haven’t filled in all the blanks yet, but I know where I’m going and I’m happy with that for now.   I’m aiming for 75,000-80,000 words which will be my longest manuscript yet (my first drafts are usually a measly 50,000 words) so the end is definitely near.

In the meantime, I’ll keep on writing…. And try not to get too distracted by the next big shiny idea that’s circling around in my mind.

Any other writers out there struggle with plot points?

1 comment

  • I feel like I was able to much better grasp plot points and internal conflict after attending a Plotting Masterclass run by Natasha Lester. Up until then I was blundering about. There are just so many aspects to the writing craft to understand. I have most problems with ‘show not tell’, and the conflicting advice that surrounds it.

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