Back in the late 1990's, one of my favorite Christian bands was the Newsboys. In case you're not hip on who they are, they're a Christian Rock/Pop group that's still popular in Christian circles today. However their music was a bit different 20 years ago.
On their album, take me to your leader, there was a song at the end called 'Lost The Plot'. I always liked the song but my wife wasn't big on it. Nowadays I understand why. It sounds almost anti-God because the character in the song is lost in the reason why we're here. They yell at God and ask "Are you still listening? (Because we're obviously not.)"
I'm thinking about that song today because that's how writing can be. (No, I'm not yelling at God.) But sometimes you're in the middle of writing a book and everything is going well and you somehow get lost between the middle and the end. You think, wait a minute. How is this thing really going to end? Right now it doesn't make sense, my characters can't do that!
Enter the Newsboys song: "Sigh, let's be blunt. We're a little distracted. What do you want?"
You've become lost in the plot. You keep on writing, because what else is an author to do? However you're mainly putting out feelers to figure out where to go. You might write a chapter that you never use! (I just did.) That's totally understandable, especially when you're just starting out. Actually, I'm sure it happens to seasoned pros too.
In the first days of an author,
writing an unused chapter feels like an enormous waste of time and talent! "Why did I spend all this time!" you might think to yourself. "A whole day's work creating a chapter and then I don't even use it!" Trust me, I understand. It happens!
There is a silver lining though. Maybe you can use that wasted chapter somewhere else. Maybe you'll glean ideas for the next chapter. Shoot, use it as giveaway material or a book teaser for your hungry readers! They'll probably love it.
Even if you don't use it, hopefully you'll now have a clearer direction on how to finish! In my recent case of getting lost, I had to sit back and re-examine the plot line. How was I going to get to the climax!? How should the book end? How do I explain getting there from this point?
Don't get me wrong. I already had a plot line for this story. I knew where I wanted it to go. But sometimes while you're creating a book, your ideas don't meld with how the characters would act. Your plan doesn't fit with their plan or personality. What you want to do doesn't make sense. You end up re-evaluating the whole thing.
Sometimes you have to take more time to plan out how you get there. The characters have to take a few more steps to get from point A to point B.
Here's a small example.
When I write a fictional story, I like bouncing back and forth between 2 story lines. One chapter will come from one person's point of view but the next chapter tells a different part of the story from another person's point of view. This way, two different stories can go on at the same time, perhaps eventually coming together. It gives the whole read more action and makes the transitions smoother.
This can be a bit challenging when plot line number one is bigger than plot line number two. You get caught up telling the story of plotline one, but then you have to figure out how to add more material to plot line two so the whole ball keeps rolling. Does that make sense? Maybe you could even move on to plotline number three!
That's where I was this past week. I don't want to give away the plot, but I can now say that I'm not lost. I re-examined the story added to it and made it better! At least I hope it's better!
If you've never yet heard the song Lost The Plot from the Newsboys, click play on the video below! I hope you enjoy it!
P.S. I'm planning on sharing that chapter that I didn't use with my email subscribers. If you'd like to read it, subscribe to my list!
Ben Russell is author of "Noah Drake And The Dragon Killer". He writes Juvenile/Middle Grade Fiction Adventures. He's not a scientist or a doctor of history; he's just a guy that's interested in those subjects. He's very interested in creation. His inner child gets excited about dinosaurs and the idea that they're not millions of years old. He despises the theory of evolution, believing it's a stumbling block to the Christian faith. Ben is a family man. He and his lovely wife have four happy kids and they make their home among the roaming hills of the Missouri Ozarks.