I have friends who struggle with plotting, and I really do feel sorry for them.

Plot has never been a problem for me. If there are four gifts a writer can receive when it comes to successfully being able to write, it’s plot, characters, conflict and clean writing.

I always got plot, and I’ve always been good at it. My characters, when I love them have always been good but if I don’t they are something I struggle with, and as much as anyone is ever good at conflict, there is always more conflict to have. The one I struggle with the most is clean writing. Not because I don’t know the rules and couldn’t apply them to someone else’s writing, because that’s no problem. I’ve got that. It’s in my own stuff, my eye “fixes” the problem so quickly my brain doesn’t even really see the typo. All it sees is the clean copy. I struggle with it and have a lot of tricks that help, but it’s that one thing I know I’m not good at and struggle with constantly.

Which is, I have to say, the easiest skill of all three to “fix”. If you can’t plot, if you don’t have characters you care about, if nothing happens, the cleanest copy in the world isn’t going to save that. It is almost impossible to go back and change any of the first three without significantly changing characters motivations, and once you’ve done that your story kind of lurches about in a Frankenstein monster kind of thing where parts of it is from pre-change and part of it is post-change, and no piece goes with anything else. Conflict is hard, because once you realize just how much of your story, that in your head is dangerous and exciting, is told in a way where the reader is told not to worry before they even start to feel a bit alarmed. Showing the thing that is supposed to happen on the screen is writing 101, and the last thing everyone ever masters, like direct/indirect objects in ESL.

And characters changing? Both those problems wrapped up into one. I have a story right know where I know exactly what is wrong with it and exactly how to change it, but it would need major rewriting and I don’t know if I love the world enough to chuck out everything but the characters name. If I loved the story and the characters, that wouldn’t be a problem, but I get that feeling of oh, man, it’s not good, but it’s good enough.

And that’s just it. There’s always someone else who is more willing to put in that extra work more than you are willing to put in the extra work. There comes a time that if you don’t put in the extra work, you’ve eliminated yourself out of writing professionally. And that’s not a bad thing. If writing is a hobby, knock yourself out with whatever line you feel is “good enough”.

But I want to be published in a bigger field than I already am. And that moves my good enough line forward hundreds of yards, and if I’m going to do it, I should just do it.

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