A good night's rest is so important to our ability to function daily. Let me tell you. . .I slept great at the Broadmoor. I think the mattress had a goose down cover. Now, back at home, I realize that my 10-year-old mattress needs replaced. It is no longer a good foundation for my beauty sleep. I wake up tired and achy.
As I start to think about mattress shopping, I'm reminded of story proposal shopping and how all stories also need a good foundation on which to rest the process of building a healthy story.
I met with a few authors this past weekend who didn't have a fully developed story summary--not to mention having no chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the story development.
Too many authors take a lot of freedom under the guise of a "character-driven" story. They write and wait for the character to develop the plot as they go. So even when the author had a pretty interesting character's story, if they couldn't tell me how the story would evolve and come to an end, that really turned me off from wanting to pursue the book proposal.
We've seen a thing happen with established authors, too, where they propose a story summary that we contract on, but they turn in a manuscript that has greatly deviated from the original summary. This causes a problem when we are creating marketing copy and other promotional materials based on the original proposal. In trade fiction, we could even be presenting the book's theme to a store buyer before the editors read through the complete manuscript.
So having your story plan laid down before you finish writing the manuscript is so important in these ways:
- - helps the publisher proceed with early sales and publicity presentations.
- - helps the publisher develop an appropriate cover.
- - helps the author avoid writer's block on those days when the characters aren't "talking" all that much.
- - helps the character and plot development move at a steady, believable pace and progression.
- - helps the author avoid surprises -- like getting two-thirds of the way through the book and realizing the story needs a scene set in a taxidermy shop but the author doesn't have a clue about the look, feel, smell, taste, etc of such a shop. Soon the writing schedule is derailed as the author rushes off to do necessary research.
- - helps to manage word count as the author writes. A chapter-by-chapter summary can help the author know how the word count will develop along with each scene and plot mile marker. Without a chapter-by-chapter summary, the author can risk wrapping up the story short of the needed word count, stretching the story over a sagging (dull) middle, or having to wrap up the end of the book too quickly due to being short on available word count.
Have you experienced problems in writing due to running without a proper story plan in place?