I'm new to this blog and am tonight staring down one heck of a rabbit-hole-disguised-as-deadline. Thanks for allowing me to disengage myself from my non-fiction work and return to a technique I use in fiction writing.
Certainly time is always pressing and I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to, but I always use reading as a writing tool.
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion talked about how John Gregory Dunne would often read a novel several times “to see how it worked.” When I was working on my novel, I turned to my favorite in the middle grade-YA genre, Missing May by Cynthia Rylant, and charted the book out on a graph.
Along the y axis was the word count by chapter; the x axis noted where the various plot points occurred, when characters were introduced….the whole arc of the plot. It served as an invaluable road map because I was, and still am, a novice at plot development for anything other than a short story. I have a greater appreciation for Rylant’s craft and a graph of Missing May that is real purdy.
But, seriously, read the 'good ones.' Do this for a recent adult novel like Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and learn how
and when a real pro inserts plot points.
Mary-Margaret Simpson writes for gardening and outdoor magazines as well as for higher education. And if you can make any sense of that, please let her know.