Celebrating my fun interview with Jean Henry– http://tinyurl.com/d9mtss –and my dinner tonight with my pal Mary Buckham, who is doing a book plotting weekend here in The Lou, I have decided to post my BIG plotting secret.
Are you ready?
It can always get worse.
Yeah. See…that’s how life goes and that’s what can happen in a book. No matter how dark it is, no matter how horrible the situation, there’s always a moment when you think, “Things can’t get worse.” Or in my family, we call it the “It could be raining” moment. We’ll be in a crisis, and my dear husband David will look at me, and we’ll say in tandem: “Could be worse. Could be raining.” (And usually it is…so we both start to laugh.”
We also like the “it went about as badly as anything could go barring loss of life and limb” phrase.
So if you are plotting (or plodding as it sometimes seems) along today, and if you are suffering from the dreaded “saggy middle” just pretend you are Lee Child, who is fabulous for creating situations where you think, “Jack Reacher will NEVER get out of this.” Or Jeff Deaver who is the ultimate trickster, leading you to think “Okay, that character is su-unk.” Or even those bright sparks who write “24,” and give us fine moments where we’re forced to admit “our entire way of life is DOOMED.” That is, be a gloomy thinker. Decide what the worst is and let it rip.
Hint, hint: It doesn’t have to be the WORST for your protag. It could be the WORST for someone your protag loves.
Tip: Ask yourself, “What would really upset the status quo.”
And while I’m at it, I hope you don’t read the Kirkus Reviews for Cut, Crop & Die (Book #2 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series which will be released in June). I hope you don’t because although Kirkus called the book “a nicely crafted cozy full of amusing moments, real-life insecurities and scrapbooking tips,” they also gave away a really bleak time in Kiki’s life. (Why, oh, why did they have to post a spoiler?)