It occurred to me that my current plot for Muscadine Survivor is like an egg carton. A very small, very empty carton.
You know, the ones you buy at the grocery store with a dozen eggs? They come in all varieties. There are the white or pink styrofoam cartons, the clear plastic tri-fold cartons (my personal favorite), the grey pressed cardboard cartons. You get the picture. They all serve to cradle twelve precious eggs on their journey from their place-of-laying to your refrigerator. Considering the distances some travel, it’s actually quite impressive that so few crack during the trip.
Now, imagine that each plot point is an egg. They’re such fragile little points. I can safely poke and prod one at a time, but if I get it into my head to take a couple out and juggle them, 20% of the time one is going to crack. (I always wanted one of those learn-to-juggle books when I was little.) These eggs plot-points need TLC.
So, if a plot point = an egg, then the plot structure = the egg carton.
With me so far?
Some people like to collect eggs as the hen lays them, one or two at a time, and enjoy a scrumptious florentine omelet before anyone else wakes up. I did this when I lived in Honduras (minus the gourmet ingredients but we made up for it by using lots of lard), and I must admit, there’s nothing quite like an egg right outta the hen. Except maybe a ripe banana straight off the tree. Fresh. Other people would rather wait a bit and collect a half-dozen eggs in a basket to feed the family. I mean, if you don’t look out for your loved ones, who’s gonna look out for you when you really need it, right?
I, unfortunately, am the kind of person who is happiest when her refrigerator is chock full of enough food to feed a family of seven when there’s usually just 2.5 of us (including the toddler who survives on a diet of yoghurt, hot dogs, and mac n’ cheese). My pantry looks like a miniature convenience store (without the cigarettes but at least as much beer).
My point… what was my point? Oh, right…
eggs = plot points
egg carton = plot structure
I can’t drive cross-country without a map. I can’t carry eggs without a supportive container. And I can finally admit that I just cannot write a novel — not even a first draft — without an outline. An entire egg-crate pad, if you will, filled with plot points. (get it? egg carton support? egg-crate pad could theoretically support dozens and dozens of eggs?)
I’ve allowed myself a break for the past two weeks from writing. Work has been hectic. The weekends have been filled with weddings, football games, and concerts. The holidays are coming up, and NaNoWriMo is right around the corner. The SCWW conference is two weeks away and I’m meeting with two agents for a critique of Mountain Malice. My querying is on hold ’til then, in case they tell me to throw in the towel on that novel and spend my time on my current wip.
But… what I really need to do is roll up my sleeves and start hunting those eggs. They’re in there, I know it. All I need is a bit more patience. Less sleep. More coffee. Less TV. More sticky notes.
And a warehouse-sized roll of egg-crate foam padding for my story.
C’mon, let’s lay some eggs!