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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, March 28, 2008

Q&A Friday


It's time for Reader's Questions. What's a question you've always wanted to ask about plot? About anything related to writing? Noodlers are ready to answer.


Don't forget, posting puts you in the drawing for this month's prize--a $20 gift certificate from Borders, courtesy of monthly coordinator and 2008 Golden Heart finalist Theresa Ragan.

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19 Comments:

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Marianne Harden said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Marianne,
That's a really good question, especially since I'm someone who likes a lot of plot. The key, IMHO, is to know your market. If the publishing house doesn't buy romances with a lot of plot, then they probably aren't the house for you. Tor/Forge in their guidelines states they look for romances where that is only part of the plot, so maybe look at what their authors do, and see if your writing falls into that category. One way to avoid convolution is to ask yourself if each of your subplot threads are necessary. If not, one of those threads could be cut to tighten your plot.

Hope this helps!

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Marianne: I'm a plot slut, as well, and I don't know if that slowed me down selling or not. Maureen's advice is good. Other possibilities are to say in your submission, "If you would like more romance on the page, I'm happy to do that." And yet another possibility is to can the HEA and submit it as a mystery with a recurring heroine, if that's a possibility. You can also ask specifically for that feedback when you submit.

 
At 1:03 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Good Lord, Marianne, you crack me up! No wonder we're crit partners. Here I am, taking a break from my story to check in at the WNP while thinking, "my book is romance....just romance...no thieves, flying monkeys, abduction plots, nothing! No plot but romance!"

If it's not one thing it's another! :)

So instead of worrying about subplots to cut (no chance of that!) I'll check my h/h GMC again, I guess, to make sure it's enough to sustain the book?

 
At 1:18 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Lol, Marianne.

Wow, a lot of plot sluts here today!

I think I started off as a plot slut and then learned to focus in and slow down every action, every scene. In the beginning I was writing books where the h/h were always running from one scene to the next...too quickly...you know what I mean? Running off to the next scene before they talked enough or got to know one another enough. They were always visiting someone or going somewhere or running from bad guys, or whatever. But then I dissected some of my favorite books and realized I wasn't focusing/spending enough time on each scene before moving on.

Focusing, zeroing in and adding more dialogue, etc. to help the characters get to know one another helped to cut some plot and further develop the characters instead!

Anyhow, just my two cents. :)

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Marianne, even single title romances today are shorter and no one trying to sell should probably write a book more than 100,000 words; 90,000 is probably better.

My suggestion is to focus on the romance. Ask yourself if your latest plot idea makes the romance yummier, or does it distract. Does the subplot you thought up support the romance (see my blog of last week on subplots) or does it distract? Focus on what makes the Romance yummier, more sigh-worthy, more hot. Leave out the rest.

Other Noodlers have talked about putting "extras" in a separate file and that's what you can do for that glorious barrage of ideas you have. You can always use them later for another book.

I envy your flood of ideas. Mine come like molasses on a cold day.

 
At 1:37 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Speaking of word count...

Hope this isn't a dismally ignorant question, but do you all follow the count in your Word program or do you follow a page count? (As in, 400 pages is 100,000 words.) I've seen several authors with "progress meters" on their sites doing both, and I know a page count of TNR vs. New Courier would be very different.

Thanks!

 
At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Colleen Gleason said...

My name is Colleen, and I'm a plot slut too. :-)

I don't think you have to worry about having too much plot in a romance, as long as there is a romance and the plot helps to drive that romance.

There are so many books that are crossing lines/genres now, but as long as you have a romance in it, I think it doesn't matter.

I agree with whoever mentioned (Mo?) about paying attention to the house you're submitting to (ie, Harlequin might not want books that are too plot-heavy, but NAL or Ballantine or Tor would).

Also, Gillian, about word count: my editor uses computer word count, so that's what I use.

It's quite an eye opener from when I used to use the formula of 250 words/pp, 25 lines, Courier 12. :-)

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Yeah, it used to be all page count, but now quite a few editors have switched to computer word count. You'll have to ask.

Switching to computer word shock, as Colleen says, it's a nasty shock.

 
At 3:13 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

to make the word count thing clearer, my last ms came in at 355 pages
Computer word count 77,184
Page word count 88,750

When writing, I always aim my word count by counting pages. It is just easier for me to figure out how far I have to go or how many pages I need to fill.

For an 85,000 word ms, I aim for 400 pages. I usually figure about 20 ms pages per chapter.

That's just how I keep track so I know if I'm coming up short or if I'm going to need to cut. The end product can be.....355 pages!

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

"Page word count"--is that like 250 words a page that Colleen mentioned? Because I can't believe it's an 11,000 difference between that and the computer word count. Or I can, but good grief, that's a huge difference.

Thanks, ladies, for explaining. I can see it would be really important to be clear on this with your editor.

 
At 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, everyone, for the plot info.

Right after posting, we hopped in the Harden Mobile and headed to the mountains. Rudolph would have come in handy cuz we hit a near blizzard.

After a quick swipe of plastic, we're in our hotel room. Now to the find the bar. (Blizzards make me thirsty)

I really appreaciate all your wisdom and suggestions. Hopefully, I'll find redemption and reform my plot sluting ways. (What's that, Eliot Spitzer? You're gonna find another book to read?) The nerve!

Thanks again.

Lovely weekend, all

Marianne Harden

 
At 7:43 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

That's right, Gillian.

one inch margins all around, Courier New 12 font. 25 lines per page

Remember, though, that some of my pages might have only one or two lines on them at the end of a chapter, and with a lot of dialogue, there are fewer words per page.

 
At 11:12 PM, Blogger doglady said...

That's my two CPs the Laurel and Hardy of Plotting! Very funny Marianne and Gillian. Plot sluts, indeed. I say that because I KNOW I can be guilty of that as well. I like the idea of culling subplots and putting them in a file to use in this novel or save for a sequel. How does one achieve the right balance between the two. Is there a ratio or is it just instinct? Thanks for the word count info as well!

 
At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

who deciedes the title of your books and covers
kim h

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Kim: If you're a debut author in commercial genre fiction, you get some input on titles, and pretty much no input on covers.

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Kim, from talking to other authors, I'd say input into tiles and covers varies from publisher to publisher, and maybe even from editor to editor.

I'm usually asked to provide a list of possible titles, then my editor and I discuss them.

Some publishers don't ask for any author input into covers. Others ask for brief descriptions of the main characters and a couple of scenes in the book.

I've loved both of my covers. The art department even tied in the heroines' favorite colors - purple for THE MAN FOR MAGGIE and pink for WITH THIS RING. I love that they did that. I think is shows amazing attention to detail.

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

O Doggie One, I think each book has its own balance between plot and subplot, so it is hard to say.

Shorter books use fewer subplots.

Just write the book the way you think is best. Trust your own story-telling!

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ty all
kim h

 

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