You know folks as a writer I’m sometimes — okay most of the time — fine have it your way– all of the time, challenged with plot development. In my own defense during character development I’ve had a lot of my characters suddenly decide, without asking me, to take the story in a direction I would have never imagined.
Okay, I get it.
Sometimes they (all of these characters running around in my head) want to drive. On several occasions and with at least two of my novels I let them have the wheel for a bit.
Now I know what you’re thinking. Okay maybe not, but if I did know I’d be saying some of you are thinking maybe I should just sit back and let them head off down the story road. Well, I’ve done that a couple of times and the results have been pretty fantastic, but just as many times I’ve gotten pulled over by the plot police and given several citations. Oh it didn’t bother them — all those free spirited characters in my head — one bit that I got mediocre reviews. Besides, it was me writing the books and I should have known better.
Oh it’s on now.
Lately I’ve decided to apply some good old southern ingenuity when my characters decide they want to drive and end up smacking the entire story into a telephone post. Okay it was fire hydrant, but they messed up the plot really bad.
When my plots go south, or a sudden sink hole mysteriously appears in the middle of my work (probably because one of my characters took out a main water line) I just pour a little gravy on it. Gravy is a wonderful thing. There’s cream gravy, mushroom gravy, onion gravy, red eye gravy, chocolate gravy (haven’t tried that one, but just typing it made my sweet tooth howl) and even giblet gravy. There are probably gravies I’ve never heard of much less created.
Stay with me here folks. This is not a culinary article. This is me letting you know that everything in the world seems better with a little gravy on it.
Even the stories you and I write.
Let’s say your plot is a little thin at the beginning or in the middle or even at the end and you need to fatten up your characters, or build the scenes that test the limits of your character’s faith in themselves and the world around them while tackling overwhelming obstacles.
Just pour a little story gravy on it.
Smooth that jagged plot with a thickened layer of mystery and intrigue, hubris or modesty, or heap on a double coating of protagonist versus antagonist. Don’t worry about the word count for now. You’re coating your plot with a coat of high octane story gravy. Do you really want to start counting calories when you’ve got a delectable story developing in front of you?
I think not. Plus keep in mind, you have at least eleven months before you have to renew your New Year’s diet resolution.
For every plot hole there’s going to be different gravy. You may need gravy that’s long on taste and not as thick, because your plot has very few if any holes but it needs a little something to take it over the top.
Pour some story gravy on it.
Maybe your story started off with a bang and you decided to let your characters drive and lucky you they missed the fire hydrant, but smashed through the front window of a local bakery. What a perfect opportunity to pour a little story gravy on it. Hopefully your characters remembered to steal some of the bread.
The long and the short of it — maybe I should say the thick and the thin of it — is that most of us (I’m willing to bet all of us) will at some point in our writing career write a not-so-hot plot only to also discover the deadline we thought was months away is uh, like…next week?
Okay you charred the roast a bit?
You know what to do.