A Lesson in Plotting from a Very Funny Guy

I went to see J. Elvis Weinstein the other night. He headlined at the Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis and drew an enthusiastic crowd, despite dire warnings from talking heads about an impending sleet and slush apocalypse. I got some good, healthful laughs and a wonderful reminder about plotting a novel. 

From a stand-up comic?

You bet.

After all, whether it’s a novel, a screen play, a lyric or a standup routine, the author is telling a story.

I realized that the show was much more than a series of jokes.  It was instead a series of elements, carefully woven into a subliminal story line that plumbed the human condition with warmth and humor. Things mentioned early, like teeth grinding, got a laugh and got fixed in our minds. They disappeared, to return later and fit with other carefully positioned elements. The conclusion carried some of the elation of pushing that last piece of a 3000-piece puzzle in place and made the final laugh so much the bigger.

In rewriting my third novel, I’m trying to balance dropping those elements that are important to the conclusion in place delicately enough so, like Weinstein’s stand-up routine, the reader will put them all together just a second after the big reveal and realize that they knew all along what was going to happen, but were not aware they knew.

A lesson well taught.

Fail Deadly, the Next Step: ß

I am almost finished with Alpha, soon to need Beta. Which is to say, I am near the end of the rewrite of my third novel, Fail Deadly.

The first draft was the easy part … six months on a roller coaster ride, wind in the face, screaming along the tracks of the plot. Unalloyed joy. Then began the hard part: Rewrite. I am truly fortunate to be a member of three critique groups, so the chapters have gone before a jury of talented writers. Line by line, character by character, week by painstaking week, they have stayed with the story. They are, in the parlance of writerdom, the Alpha readers. I am almost through integrating many of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of suggestions.

The next step is the Beta. The Alphas can’t do it — they’re too familiar with the detail. I will need several people willing to read the manuscript all the way through, looking for character flaws, plot inconsistencies. Or perhaps most valuable to me (as well as most painful), saying, “I got bored at page X and couldn’t finish.”

If you, dear reader are interested in being a Beta, let me know through Contact page or straight to gotuit5243@gmail.com.  I’ll have the manuscript in Word and PDF files, e-books in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as a few paper copies.