Losing the plot… something I seemed to be up against over the Easter weekend. And then again the following weekend. And as for last weekend, well I spent a goodly part sorting out important things around the house… As you probably know, I am also doing the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge this month –specifically the variant NaNoFinMo, or finishing your novel month.

Losing the Plot

I’m never very good at plotting. I tend to have various ideas and events in mind, problems my characters are going to have to solve. Then I throw them into the situation and make them get out of it.

Over the Easter weekend, I ground to a halt with my attempt on Zanzibar’s Rings, because the various strands I had refused to knot together. Worse, one of the strands that I had included in the draft blurb seemed to be precluded by my inciting event!


If the whole of the Galaxy is stumped by an event that makes orichalcum stop giving them instantaneous communication, how are the Imperium and Federation going to find out about all the orichalcum in Zanzibar’s Rings, let alone cause trouble for the Viridian System natives because of it?

Resolving my Plot Threads

After a couple of days where I just continued writing, I took a day off, and started again with a little more cogitation under my belt. This mainly involved a couple of baddies who I had decided were going to force Pete and the Swede off to look at Zanzibar’s Rings in the first place. Getting them tagged as potentially Fed spies starts the possibility of the Fed and Imperium coming to blows, since there is an Imperium Senator already poking his nose in where it isn’t wanted.

Last week, I worked out how they were going to effectively kidnap the two spacers. And by the time I’d finished that, and the other ideas I’d worked in, or picked up as loose threads, I wondered where I was going again. Especially as I seemed to have written a whole lot of very obvious plot twists (saw that coming, eh?), and was not even halfway through my wordcount.

I knocked 5000 words off my Nano target to cut myself some slack! (The original target is still in the progress bar at the moment)

Turgid plots? NaNoFinMo can help!

A variant on Camp Nano (hard to find) is the Finish your WIP, or National Novel Finishing Month. Sign up for Camp and you can link in with FinMo. And the NaNoFinMo page has some really useful help ideas. When I first looked at this page, I thought it was so much ‘stuff’ –as in not helpful.

Then I went back and read it properly and found some help in ‘Writing through a Muddy Middle’, and ‘Finding Your Ending’. I took its advice and went through my WIP making notes to brainstorm with myself.

It turns out I’m quite good at not leaving untapped resources in my draft. I plant things and weave them back into the plot later, mostly. There was one I hadn’t got to yet. Another I’d started on as a subplot, but it was still pretty muddy. That just needs more writing to work it through. And suddenly, some plot strands appeared to be converging that weren’t as predictable as it had seemed. I hope.

The overarching problem for all galactic citizens is getting their communications working again–without the ability to communicate. Fortunately, the guys on the spot (Pete and the Swede) have worked out how. Now to see what the baddies do about it. And that might just be where I throw in a curve ball.

#amwriting update

With just over 10 days to go, I should be at around 62k words. 58k would be okay, as I’ve dropped my Camp Nano target. You can see how I’m doing in the progress bar below. Oops!

P is for Plot, especially Losing It #AtoZChallenge2021
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14 thoughts on “P is for Plot, especially Losing It #AtoZChallenge2021

  • 19 April, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    It can be hard to weave in a lot of plot points, but it can make a story more interesting. Glad you figured out the areas of your plot that you were struggling with.

    • 19 April, 2021 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks, Natalie. I’ve given myself a lot of writing scenes I’m not comfortable with, though. I’m not good at conflict!

  • 19 April, 2021 at 12:56 pm

    You bit off quite a lot for this month, Jemima! But maybe having that much on your plate stimulated your little gray cells to find a way to weave in the plot points?

    • 19 April, 2021 at 10:26 pm

      Yes, I have, and it’s not been easy, especially as I’ve also insisted I get out and do things out of doors. But then that definitely helps the brain to come up with ideas when it’s resting. I’m getting a bit tired, though!
      But look how long it is since I said I was writing Zanzibar’s Rings!

  • 19 April, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    Hope you hit your goal and get all those twists to tie together.

  • 19 April, 2021 at 4:06 pm

    I seem to have a similar approach to plotting! Keep going, it sounds like the mud is clearing.

  • 19 April, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    I’ve had that happen to me more than once and I have a few partial drafts sitting on my computer as a result. Sometimes I get lucky and I eventually figure the plot out.

    • 19 April, 2021 at 10:28 pm

      Funny, mine seems to be coming around to my original intention at the moment. I wonder what twist will turn up at the end?

  • 19 April, 2021 at 11:31 pm

    Plotting has always been something I waited to do after completing the first draft. Because my main genre is Mystery, I write the inciting incident and develop my characters before working out all the logistics. Sometimes the “whodunit” or “howdunit” changes along the way. I like how you went through your manuscript to determine how to fix plot holes and spot plotlines needing attention. Lots of work.

    • 20 April, 2021 at 12:01 pm

      I think the problem was I’d written the inciting incident and the characters are developing after two previous books and needed some challenges to actually get them to really develop as people. And I was less than halfway through the wordcount!
      Flowing a bit better today, but still wondering whether I’ll have enough words at the end of it. I see some fudging coming in for the NaNo count!

  • 20 April, 2021 at 1:55 am

    Hey! Congrats on the AtoZ. Plot is always a huge challenge and often take off like a spooked horse on me.

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