The Dreaded Plot Crash

I’m past my targeted halfway point in Zorya, at almost 45,000 words, and the thing happened that I worry about most when I’m writing. I discovered that I have a critical plot point that manages to negate a big chunk of the rest of the plot.

It’s not the first time it’s happened, not even the first time for this book, but I hate it. First I have to work out some kind of solution that doesn’t sound stupid, or demand an entire flotilla of gods descending in machines. Then I have to alter and rework text all through the manuscript to make sure it’s in line with the solution. You know what that’s like?

My wife has a bunch of necklaces hanging in a necklace cabinet. Often several of them on one wooden peg (no room otherwise). Sometimes when you take one off they snag, and all come off together and fall in a shiny tangled knot of very fine and near-identical chains. I have to sit there with something pointy like a pin and carefully tweak each loop free, tugging gently to avoid tightening the knot, often passing one loop through another multiple times, until all the chains are finally separated. It takes a long time.

It’s like that.

“Line, please.”

Gah. Bogged down in an important dialogue scene again.

It’s weird how you can be in the shower, or walking down to the mailbox, or rinsing dishes, and all of a sudden an entire sequence comes into your head. Your characters move through the scene, talking, shouting, and thinking. All you need to do is stand back and watch, and hope to God you don’t forget any of it. It’s why writers need to carry notebooks.

Other times–and this of course is when you’re sitting at the keyboard ready to roll–nothing comes. Your characters are standing there on their marks, giving you dirty looks, waiting for you to come up with something for them to do. I have one who starts tapping his feet. Another pulls out her phone and starts checking Facebook. They mutter to each other. It might be great dialogue, but I can’t hear it from over here.

So I flee into my blog, and write a post…

“New Study: 55% of YA Books Bought by Adults”

Publishers Weekly article here.

“According to a new study, fully 55% of buyers of works that publishers designate for kids aged 12 to 17 — known as YA books — are 18 or older, with the largest segment aged 30 to 44, a group that alone accounted for 28% of YA sales. And adults aren’t just purchasing for others — when asked about the intended recipient, they report that 78% of the time they are purchasing books for their own reading.”

I certainly enjoy YA books, and not just Harry Potter. I mean, how could I write YA books otherwise? My wife is running through the various series that Rick Riordan is generating, and (fortunately) she likes my books too. Well, so far.

For that matter there are a lot of middle-grade books I like, especially the classics. Mary Poppins. Doctor Dolittle. The Mushroom Planet books. Anything by Roald Dahl.

And why not keep going? I like Dr. Seuss, anything by Robert Munsch, and lots of other picture books.

I like comic books, too. But that’s another story.

When it comes down to it, I even like reading cereal boxes. They used to be a lot more interesting, though.

The Freshman Class: Kids’ Fall 2012 Fiction Debuts

I caught this article on my Publishers Weekly e-mail update.

It’s encouraging to see success stories like this, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t just a little touch of envy there, too. But the important thing to remember is that it’s still possible to make it in the publishing world.

Good luck to all the aspiring writers out there, and keep on trying!

(P.S. I’ve just realized that looking at those author pictures also makes me feel pretty damn old!)