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It’s complicated

It’s not so much the thing itself, as the complications you have to worry about.

I might be talking about anything from Auto-immune diseases, to moving houses… But, because I happen to write novels…

It is novels I was referring to. You’d never have guessed, would you? And that is partly because I am all over the place. Sorry. That’s me, and I suspect most successful novelists. We get there in the end… but the complications that develop… well, they can make it hard, and of course, they can make the story.

I’m a plotter (although I have pantsed a few books. I wonder if anyone can guess which).  But, like all plotters… the plot is barest bones of the story. In fact it isn’t even always the plot or the main plot… by the time I am finished.

Because complications. Things change. Mostly they change because as the flesh adds to the bones, and starts to get pumping blood, sparking synapses and other splurty-gurgly stuff you didn’t even THINK about in that plot outline, your new-built monster tends to shamble off in the other direction. Usually to the bar, which wasn’t even IN the outline.  Well, those my ‘monsters’ anyway. Yours may head for institutes of higher learning.

Seriously, it’s an important feature that is almost inevitable: your world, your characters (which were somewhat placeholder-puppets moving at your command – fine for books by inept puppeteers – but no good for real entertainment) start to demand more background (which doesn’t necessarily make it into your book but HAS to make it into your head, for the book to work).

I remember reading a fantasy (high fantasy, I should have been stoned to read it) where this plainly had just never taken place. The women knights and their wondrous peaceful but bleak Kingdom, suddenly being attacked by bad men…  aside from the biological complications of women being smaller and not as physically powerful and armor being heavy (meaning the bad men will knock the stuffing out of them ) and peaceful utopias not having battle-seasoned knights (or knights at all) the bleak place would have struggled to feed a mouse let alone a civilization.  But hey lots of tournaments, balls and feasts, and strong womyn!

Now… you COULD write this, and even make it entertaining… as long as you don’t pretend the complications don’t exist.  As long as you work out HOW (and, o boy! It would be COMPLICATED) But it was obvious the author had the plot idea, plunged in and wrote something that needed vigorous use of the plunger…

If you don’t hit complications… and have to devote time and effort to thinking about them and solving them…

You’re doing it wrong.

And yes, I am mid complications right now, with the WIP.

Which I keep reminding myself is good (and bad for speed and progress of course).

So I thought I’d remind you of its goodness and necessity.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

19 Comments
  1. Draven #

    my ‘complications’ currently consist of designing a helmet.. :/

    hey its complex for me.

    October 14, 2019
    • Right? Helmet on a mecha suit, not a simple thing. How about arms and legs? The human inside doesn’t fit the dimensions of the gorilla suit.

      October 14, 2019
      • Draven #

        well, i am a pretty accomplished 3d modeler at this point, so i am just building the suit over a human form…

        October 14, 2019
        • 3D modeller? What program(s) do you use? I’ve poked at modelling once or twice, but my 3D go-to is Daz|Studio, as there’s whole drifts of content I don’t have to model myself, and the right kitbash usually looks Good-Enough-Ish to approximate my intention or give me a new idea to work from. The only things I’ve done commercially in 3D are a few niche shaders for D|S 4– if you wanted a halftone render, or a gemstone with birefringence and pleochroic colors that just might be done rendering by tomorrow afternoon…

          October 15, 2019
          • Draven #

            I’ve been a semi-pro-to-professional Lightwave user since the Amiga days. These days I also use Modo, Substance Designer, 3dCoat and other tools.

            October 15, 2019
            • Very cool!
              I wish I had the patience to learn that workflow. As ’tis, I barely have the attention span, or time, to bone up on the dozen other products I’ve already got.

              October 15, 2019
  2. Luke #

    My main complication is that characters competent enough to deal with a problem, are generally competent enough to see it coming, and ensure that it doesn’t arise in the first place.
    After all, adventures are nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things!

    October 14, 2019
    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

      Chuckle Chuckle

      I’ve heard that is a problem for writers of Batman.

      He has to think his way out of traps but he’s also smart enough to “not get into traps”. 😆

      October 14, 2019
    • So… Preppers?

      October 15, 2019
  3. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

    It’s too complex to write an intelligent comment before coffee. 😉

    October 14, 2019
  4. 23 skidoo

    October 14, 2019
  5. Yeah. I mostly get the characters, but the plots . . . take a little planing, and then I hope they start sprouting . . . my subconscious decides some off the cuff remark of a character was foreshadowing . . .

    October 14, 2019
  6. Margaret Ball #

    “the plot is barest bones of the story. In fact it isn’t even always the plot or the main plot… by the time I am finished.”

    THIS.

    Which is why, after writing an extremely detailed plot, I have to start over after the novel’s finished and write a synopsis briefly covering what actually happened as a starting-point for Cedar’s brilliant cover art.

    October 14, 2019
  7. Plot, sure. There is one, someplace, but I don’t know what it is yet. Lost it, as they say.

    Current WIP has a sort-of plot actually. This time I sort-of know who the Bad Guys are. Not all their attributes and powers of course, but more a general idea of what my characters are dealing with. Part of my effort to keep word-count down, have a plan going in. Bad Guys losing spectacularly is the plot.

    Problem I have now is getting the cowardly bastards to get off the dime and take their shot. Its almost as if they know what’s coming… ~:D

    October 14, 2019
    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

      Cowards or Smart? 😈

      October 14, 2019
      • I think they’re waiting for an opening. But they’re very old, and very bored, so one of them may jump the gun so they can hog all the “fun” for themselves.

        Yeah, I think I like that. No honor among thieves…

        Thanks Paul! ~:D

        October 14, 2019
  8. Mine keep on heading for Denver. I know what they are doing there, too – they come back way, way too “chilled out.”

    This is supposed to be fiction about killing things and breaking people, for Ghu’s sake!

    October 14, 2019
  9. Mary #

    Of course, how often do people think, in the ordinary way of things, of how they get fed?

    October 14, 2019
    • mrsizer #

      Apparently, very rarely in Denver. The least bit of snow and grocery stores are deluged. Who doesn’t have enough food in the house to outlast a Denver snowstorm (one day of snow, two days of melting is a BAD one)?!? And that’s just the tip (tail?) of the supply chain.

      Even, as WO alludes, the munchies are hardly a surprise. (Doritos and ice cream are firmly banned from the shopping list.)

      October 16, 2019

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