Structural stepping stones

Liane Moriarty is an expert in structure and the art of the plot reveal

So in my last post, I mentioned I had some much-needed work to do on the structure of my new Young Adult manuscript, Inside Out. My beta readers liked the characters and the theme and various things within – bullying, school theatre, op-shopping (or thrift shopping),  dressing up, friendship, & finding what you’re good at.

A nice start, yes, but there are still structural weaknesses which show up when I try to write a synopsis for it, and I have trouble pin-pointing the main turning points. They are just not in the right spots, and they don’t carry the narrative as they should. It’s like stepping stones laid by tipsy pre-schoolers, going every which way except down the plot-line path.

Like many of us, I love reading a book where the plot pulls you along, making you turn each page in the absolute NEED to know what happened. This doesn’t have to be relegated to the crime or mystery genre, but it’s the art of the author drip-feeding information in such a way that you have to finish the book to get the whole story, as it were.

I wish I had that knack! An author friend describes it as holding a little back to keep the reader intrigued. It doesn’t have to be a ‘whodunnit’ but it could just be slowly releasing bits of information about a character’s childhood or an event which affected them. So I’m working on that. And reading crime novels and authors like Liane Moriarty, not my usual fare of YA, but experts in the gradual reveal.

I will implement the great advice from Nicole Hayes at her workshop I attended last month, of picking four main turning points and structuring the book around them. And I have timelines to work towards now – I am booked into another Writer’s Victoria workshop in early April, to Write and Present Your Pitch, with Erina Reddan. While I’ve done similar ones previously, this is good timing and I want to have more confidence in my structure and synopsis by then, when I will have to (gulp!) read my pitch aloud in front of the class, including said author friend.

There be monsters in there – Izzie’s not that worried about the giant dog behind her, so I should take her advice for Literary Speed Dating

And THAT in turn will lead into a very exciting event in June – Literary Speed Dating! Yes, I already have a very useful and lovely husband, but I’m greedy and I’d love to have a very useful and lovely agent or publisher as well. LSD (hmm) is described as being ‘a roomful of publishers and agents and three minutes to pitch your work’. Yes, my hands get sweaty and my stomach dissolves just on writing those words.

You need to study the list of professionals prior to the event, pick who will be most suitable, then on the day, line up at your first choice, pitch to them, then move over to your next choice to pitch to them, and so on. Hopefully leaving an (excellent) impression in your wake. These events are very popular, sell out as fast as a new JK Rowling title, and have resulted in some successful pairings. And I’m sticking to the firm belief that if I can survive LSD, I will be able to pitch my story to the Queen if I am ever in line to meet her 😉

I am also trying to get up the nerve again to send out some short stories into the wild. It’s funny how you can do this over the years but still lose your nerve at times, thinking ‘they’re not good enough and everyone will know I’m a terrible writer’.  I have to look at it this way – if my story is published, then assume it’s good enough and numerous people will enjoy it. If it’s not published, no-one will know and I can just keep improving it and pitching it elsewhere.

My Instagram post on the night of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrated queer characters in Australian YA – there are more titles but these are the ones I currently own 🙂

Meanwhile, I’m happy with the fact that I AM still writing and improving and going to workshops. Plus February’s #LoveOzYAChallenge on Instagram was a lot of fun and resulted in new followers and some lovely new people to chat with about our love of books, animals, food and um, books again (and book covers and characters and authors and…)

It still remains my favourite place to share photos and the love of books. And one day (hopefully in the near future) I’ll be sharing the cover of Inside Out with everyone 🙂

About carolynswriting

Author, Menagerie Manager, 9-5 Drone. Love my writing, my family and other animals, my friends, and even my job :)
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