As I prepare to put ass to seat and fingers to keyboard for four hours of work on my own novel tonight, I contemplate the aspects of fiction that are most important to me. One particular thing that’s absolutely essential for me, particularly in long form fiction is plot. I’ve recently come to realize that I have a strong aversion to plot-less fiction. Actually, I’ve always known it, but recent reads have reminded me that this is a big deal to me. Most noticeably, I think a larger number of novels told in first-person narrative are fairly plot-less and meandering. The narrator often lacks the necessary flair nor a captivating voice with which to tell a compelling story (naturally this becomes an indictment on the author’s prose, but that’s another conversation). Even when serving as an outside observer to the events the narrator merely witness . . . they still somehow end up circumventing or meandering around the plot that should be, in my opinion, inherent in most stories that aren’t simply and blatantly being literary in purpose. For me as a reader (and I guess a writer as well), it breaks down like this: have a compelling story to tell with characters that are as compelling as they can be within their roles, and tell the story in the most engrossing, immersive and compelling way possible. Stay on point.
And, I suppose, like the late great Elmore Leonard said in his 10 Rules of Writing: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.” Of course his final point sums up all ten of his “rules” with this: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” I’ve been doing this a good while and depending on the genre and style, that edict can be easier said than done. But regardless of styles and categories and all that minutiae, I rarely if ever work without some semblance of a plot, an aggregate series of events that takes the character(s) from Point A to Point X and also makes the story a compelling read. Maybe underneath all that it’s a bit math-y, but hey, life is series of unseen mathematical equations.
Listen, if I ever lose the plot – in my fiction or life – please smack some sense into me. I don’t anticipate it but I’ll thank you in advance.