Yesterday was no where near as productive as I had been hoping for, mostly because a four hour shift turned into a thirteen hour one. So that was interesting, but it wrecked hell on my ability to write much in my down time (there was precious little of it and I was so tired besides). I did get a little snippet started that might have potential; I certainly like the scene it sets and the character set inside of it, but I don’t really know what to do with it, and I realize there’s the crux of a problem there.
Lately, I’ve been doing very poorly in conceiving up full-fleshed plots. Most of the things I start basically have a plot that reflect my life more than anything: an adjustment in a new place, getting to know new people, every day sort of things. Which can be interesting if done right, but so often you come across journals who ask specifically that you avoid slice-of-life pieces. I like to think that, if a story is written well enough, it will still be interesting even if the plot is very basic, but I can’t help but feel like I should consistently be considering what extra quirks or oddities I can throw in there, but then they seemed forced and only in there for the sake of trying to be more enticing.
I think I should attempt outlining again, just to see how that works out for me. I have always had the benefit of the stories sort of taking off once I really get into their stride (January’s novel became about werewolves; I’m still reeling about where that little twist came from), but it’s not something you can always depend on. This month’s novel seems to be taking the same journey as January’s, though, where some of the details are getting a little more complex as the story starts to unravel itself, but I feel this novel already has a nice hook to make it a bit more interesting that a young woman and her place in the world.
Or I could just think of the fact that I do like slice-of-life stories and novels. I’m thinking particularly of Ha Jin’s A Free Life, a story of nothing more than an immigrant family trying to make a life in the United States. Was it gripping, engaging, can’t-put-it-down page-turning? No, not particularly. Was it interesting? Absolutely. Does it still linger with me today? Without a doubt. So maybe there is still an interest in just the quiet every day fiction of the interesting lives people lead and I should have more confidence in my ability to turn an everyday story into something memorable.
What are your thoughts on slice-of-life sort of plots? Do you enjoy them, or do you feel you need something with a little more oomph and pizazz? How do your own plots tend to develop? Have you noticed a tend in your own work? Are outlines helpful, or are they the devil?
I haven’t done a plot outline since college, so if I do decide to give one a try, it should definitely be interesting!