Thursday, May 9

The Plot Organic

I've been giving this a lot of thought lately, the organic plot. How do we keep the plot organic to the character?

Have you ever read a book and there's a twist thrown in just for the shock factor and it doesn't feel right? Or you discover something about a character that is only revealed because of the plot--and it feels like the writer put it in just to justify an action?

I've quit reading books when this happens. I was a huge Alex Cross fan in the beginning. And then James Patterson turned FBI agent, Kyle Craig into the Mastermind--and there was no lead-up, no logical reason why and I haven't read a Patterson book since. Yeah, I know he's wiping his eyes right now with a $100 bill. But as a reader (and supporter, I bought his books in hardback), I felt betrayed. For me, he jumped the shark. 

 I was a huge fan of Glee when it premiered.
I couldn't convince enough people to watch it. And I still love that first season.

But something happened between the first and second season--it got popular. Music artists flooded the producers with their music. 
"Do mine," said Madonna, Elton, and Britney. "Use whatever you want from my catalog." 

And instead of staying true to the characters, the writers started writing plots to match the music--even if it didn't work. They lost their heart--which is why I started watching.

I still watch--it's one of Jordan's faves. Plus, to be honest, I watch to see Darren Criss perform. But for the most part I don't enjoy the show as much. Every one in five or seven episodes, they'll have one that reminds me of why I fell in love that first season, but those are far and few between and I'm always let down the following week when they go back to being average.

When an agent suggested that I needed a bigger plot for Bix, I had to find one that felt like it belonged in the book--belonged to that character. 

 I'd been playing around with an idea for the sequel--making the town of Cypher a training field for teenage agents. Kind of like the Federal Marshals meet Jump Street. So, when I went back to the writing board, that was where I started. Had I not already been considering that plot, it may not have felt organic but since I'd planted a few seeds to begin with, it grew to become the plot. 

Do you ever struggle with the plot organic--either writing it or reading it?


  1. In my contemporaries, not really. But every time I try suspense, it's a problem, and I still haven't figured out my process on it!

    And that jumping the shark thing ~ totally felt that way with Season 2 of Once Upon A Time. I like the second season, but it's not, I guess, as the first season.

  2. I feel the same way about Glee. I've started watching different shows, hoping they won't go down the same path. I read a book about four years ago that was really good. When the sequel came out (this year) the hero was suddenly a navy seal. Don't know how that happened seeing he was a giggolo in the first book. No lead up, he just magically became a navy seal.

  3. I wrote a similar post awhile back about how the writers have almost ruined Justified, my fave show. They have made Raylan do things that just don't make sense for his character, and by doing so, have made me almost leave the show. I quit watching Glee after season 1.

  4. Kristi--For Once Upon A Time--I kind of agree. They lost the romantic undertones of the first season. I think when a show starts out and gets mega-big right away, the producers feel they have to go mega-plus the following year. I wonder what Glee would be like if they'd had to fight to have a second season.

  5. Shawn--I totally agree. I wonder what The Following will be following next year :) or how Scandal can get any more scandalous.

  6. D'Ann--I thought about your post when I was constructing this and almost mentioned it, but I was on my way to the dentist and wanted to get it posted :)

  7. This is a good post. I haven't noticed it in books, but certainly have on TV, when a well-loved and known character will suddenly say or do something so completely off the wall. I've had to go back and stick things in before (and will have to on the endless book I'm writing now), but will be more careful to make sure it's right when I do it.

  8. Thanks Liz. Maybe it's more common on TV because they write so many episodes in a season and sometimes for several seasons. But if you find that you are betraying your characters, and thereby your audience, maybe it's time to hang up the series or hired, new inspired writers.

  9. The Game of Thrones was like that for me. Tweeted.

  10. Ella--yeah, he pretty much jumps shark all over the place :)But I'm still watching and reading.