What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Hey there! How’s it going?

The incoming e-mail waved at me.

It continued: If you’re a fiction writer, chances are that you’ve had to fight off a powerful case of plotilitis. Also known as writer’s block, this chronic condition has symptoms that include loss of hair, crippling headaches, and severe concentration problems.

Uhh, yes. I’m stuck right now somewhere between Joe Mayfield at a biotech incubator in Florida and Weezy chasing an hacker in Bethesda, Maryland.

The e-mail continues: And, luckily, we have the solution for you.

I’m all ears 👂👂

Meet our brand-new Plot Generator, which has more than 1 million* story combinations to inspire you. Simply choose from our fantasy, mystery, romance, sci-fi, and drama genres. You’ll get characters, a theme, a setting, and even a plot twist… with just one click of the finger! 

Characters without depth in places the author has no familiarity with, themes considered only superficially. What could go possibly go wrong?

Collision: Football and Storytelling

Those of you who write know that writing comes to invade much of your life. You see an expression on a face in a crowd and think about how you would capture it in words. You see a news item that makes you add a twist to your plot. Putting words around life becomes a constant. Which brings me to football.

A few days ago, I read the beginning of my fourth novel to a critique group. One of the members said. “I like the beginning, but then you take me into a biotech development hub. Interesting, but it slows the story down.”  I was contemplating that comment, going back and forth about whether to cut the offending section.  I took a break to watch a University of Florida football game. (If you’ve lived in Gainesville, Gator football puts a stamp on you, even after you leave.) I was half thinking about my writing dilemma when Florida captured a Tennessee fumble, or seemed to. There followed a half-dozen video replays, shots of refs conferring, several minutes of ads, replays, conferences. Finally, a decision. By the time, I had lost track of the game. I had just read an article in which a sportswriter talked about the new safety rules and technology that made it possible for millisecond, millimeter measurements slowing the game, destroying its rhythm. The writer credited falling viewership on the delays that alter the rhythm, which is to say the emotion, of the game.

The same is true is true about writing, it seems to me. Like football, there is a rhythm to a story, and that rhythm needs to be ever-present in a writer’s mind, because rhythm is an important component of the emotional bond between the reader and the story. That bond makes the reader turn the page.

Looks like that bit about the biotech incubator is out. I loved writing it. I worked there (well, not the fictional one) for several years. I know the people, the structure, the kind of events that go on … and I neglected rhythm.  

Maybe I’ll get a chance to put it in later.