Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Days, Conflict, and Plot holes

Nothing is sweeter than seeing/hearing the news that school is out for a snow day! Yeah, yeah, we have to make it up eventually. It causes scheduling problems, curriculum issues, and a myriad of other conflicts, but that's the natural consequence of a sudden blessing of, "Closed due to no one can get anywhere!"

And conflict is at the heart of a writer's meat and potatoes, right? Nothing but trouble is interesting? So as authors we pile up the trouble like snow on sleet on ice and watch for the inevitable snow day of reader glee when the characters are trapped under impossible circumstances.

Not so fast. See, here's the problem. Among the beautiful snowflakes of conflict that you heap upon your characters are bushes and leaves that won't let the drifts settle in the nice, even layers you envision. They poke out and make problems for you the writer and worse, jar the reader with their inconsistency, incongruity, and plot holes you can plow an 18 wheeler through.

Here's what I mean: In the current books I'm writing, Shadow of Redemption and Shifting Perspectives, in the middle of the books is a court scene where Daniel is put on trial. I won't ruin the plot by telling you why, but the opposing party has a strong case against him even though he's the hero and has done EVERYTHING RIGHT. Wait! Hold on! If he's done everything correctly, how can they have a case against him? Yeah, this is what I'm saying: nasty bush in the middle of the beautiful white snow!

This is where revision is definitely a dish best served cold! First, I blasted the scene out getting it on paper, then every read-through I've been picking apart all the issues that didn't work, adding new parts that do, further refining the arguments on both sides, and generally making things worse for poor Daniel. It's mainly a matter of perspective in this case: Kin (those who have supernatural powers) live by different rules than humans and he has been trying to live in both worlds. This court/scene brings home the fact that the Kin are just as prejudice as humans would be if they knew about Kin.

The second part to this is getting someone ELSE (or several someones) to read it and tell me what else is broken, what doesn't make sense, etc. There will be issues. I know this. It's a difficult scene to write because I have two very different cultures to try to represent. However, after time, multiple revisions and multiple beta readers, I have full confidence it will be one of the strongest and best-loved pieces in the book because of the conflict.

So, dear readers, enjoy your snow days whether they are with or without conflict. Keep in mind, though, there are always plot holes to avoid and/or fill in. Or pot holes. Hopefully your city DOT is good enough to catch those before you get caught yourself.