Writing Academy, Memoirs, Novels, Short Stories, Book Proposals

New York City Writing Coach

Gay Walley

Plot lines

Some people have a flair for plot. They know just what to do next. Others, like me, have difficulty with it. Plot presupposes some artificiality and there are some authors who find that off-putting. We have to get over it.

Yes, yes, Beckett didn’t get over it. Joyce didn’t have an amazing plot. The more literary you are, the more you can, if you like, put your nose up in the air. But the fact is… there has to be a “problem,” there has to be movement as that problem gets exposed, reversed upon, almost solved, wait …there are more difficulties (and that’s hardly a plot line – it’s also a lifeline) , and so on…. till the author comes to some kind of happy or existential or terrible solution. It’s old fashioned. We all want to ask, like a child, “Then what happened?” So if you’re wrestling with a plot, end the chapter and then say…how did it move F O R W A R D or backwards in order to go F O R W A R D? What is HAPPENING? What is MOVING?
The main trick to knowing you are stuck in the water is that you are repeating scenes. Time for your red pen….
We all hate to cut our work, “our little darlings,” as V Woolf called them, but cut we must. We write out of love and we cut out of love of the final product.