Plot is all about emotion

3 Quotes from Donald Maass hit me between the eyes:

  1. “What makes a breakout novel memorable are conflicts that are deep, credible, complex and universal enough so a great number of readers can relate.” (p. 147)
  2. “People do not change without in some way acting out…[and] when the dust settles your hero will never be the same again.” (p. 156)
  3. “The novel is too fluid a form to have only one structure.” (160)

Source: Maass’s chapter on Plot in: Writing the Breakout Novel, Writer’s Digest Books,2001

My own thought is that it all comes down to emotion. I need to get the emotion of the conflict (that is believable yada yada yada) on to the page and grab the reader with it.  Make her feel it. How I structure that experience isn’t important as long as it’s powerful. So powerful the heroine changes and with good fortune so do the readers at least in some tiny way.

What makes a plot really work for you?

Opera

I’m new to opera, but my experience couldn’t have come to me at a better time. It’s so emotional. Not a word is spared. Dramatic and layered with such intensity it holds me in its spell until it’s over, and then I’m so exhausted I need a nap. It’s like an emotional marathon.

I watched  Gaetano Donizetti’s”Maria Stuarda” on Saturday.  Joyce DiDonato  who played Maria Stuarda, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was amazing.  Physcially dramatic, her face showed every feeling, and then there was her voice. Oh my goodness, it carried such strong emotion it drew me right into the conflict.  I trembled in my seat as she forgave Queen Elizabeth. (For chopping off her head.)

I highly recommend the ‘live at the MET’ productions Cinneplex theaters put on (around the globe). The opera (with English subtitles) plays on a big screen streamed live from the  MET opera house in New York City. During intermissions they have interviews with all the main characters and explain intricacies of the plot. They show you the audience and  backstage. What I like, best of all, is that I can see the faces of the singers close up as they perform. It’s like a Goddess’s view. All for $26.00 (Canadian).

Studying 24 (Seriously)

I’m taking a great course from Mary Buckham about ‘pacing’, and thinking a lot about my plot. That’s my excuse to study the TV show 24 on Netflix. Yikes it’s fast. I’m hoping that between my pulsing heartbeats, pacing wisdom will seep into my bones. And if not…at least I’m having fun.

tulips2

Tulips

Aren’t they beautiful. Orange with yellow tips that open to sunshine.

The picture, which doesn’t do them justice, took two hours to download from my cell phone. I finally figured out the problem was my yahoo email account which I use to relay the file, so I found another route. I know I’m not the only one having difficulty adjusting to Yahoo’s new interface. And I have to ask: What was wrong with the old one? Arrrrgh.

Writing

It’s been a quiet week of writing and collecting rejections. No time for research (except for 24). As a friend commented, “It’s the life of a writer.”

Love to hear your thoughts on emotion and plot.

Author: Jo-Ann Carson

Jo-Ann Carson writes a saucy mix of fantasy, adventure and romance. Her latest stories are in the Gambling Ghosts Series: A Highland Ghost for Christmas, A Viking Ghost for Valentine’s Day, Confessions of a Pirate Ghost and The Biker Ghost Meets his Match. An anthology of the novellas will be coming out this summer. Currently she is working on Midnight Magic, A Ghost & Abby Mystery, the first book in a spin-off series from her Viking ghost story. Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, playing Mah Jong and drinking good coffee. You can chat with her on social media: You can find all her links on her website - http://jo-anncarson.com

11 thoughts on “Plot is all about emotion”

  1. Well, Jo-Ann interesting. You sandwiched Opera between Donald Maas and Tulips and made it work. A little like Garrison Kieler who rambles from one subject to another in a stream of sonciousness. But for him to it works.
    Your description of the opera made me think of a blog I just read that referenced silent movies. All that emotion expressed through the face, body and of course the music.
    I share your issues with getting pics to transfer from one place to another. But I fear it is perchance in operator in my case. LOL
    Sorry to hear about the rejections, but if you hadn’t sent out, you would’ve had no chance for an acceptance.
    Hard times. We must keep on plugging away. Off to work on blog posts. 🙂

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    1. Marsha
      Have you started a blog? What’s your url? I can’t wait to see it.
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I did meander a bit, but the problem with writing only once a week is that I have enough stuff in my head for more than one post. So today I attempted to pull it together with “emotion” as a theme. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      Best wishes
      Jo-Ann

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    1. Hi Emma
      Yes, the tulips are beautiful.
      I never would have thought I’d like opera as I naively equated it with fat screeching ladies on the radio, and preferred blues, soft rock and jazz. But when I first tasted the real thing in Italy, I was swept off my feet. Now I’m a wee bit hooked.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  2. Jo-Ann ~~ I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one struggling with Yahoo deciding to fix what’s not broken 🙂 24 is a great show that changed the pacing of thrillers as a result. I love to think what another ten years will bring into our lives that will change our pacing expectations. Great blog!!

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    1. Mary
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment.
      OOoooh… where will pacing go in the next ten years? After 24 that almost scares me.
      Best Wishes
      Jo-Ann

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  3. Jo-Ann, I haven’t gone live with my blog yet. Kristen Lamb in her book, We Are Not Alone, suggest you not begin until you have 15 blogs written and 5 as back up for emergencies. I’m getting close. But still have to call and talk with the folks at GoDaddy to get specifics on getting it set up. Fingers crossed. I always feel stupid talking to them, but they’ve all been patient. 🙂

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    1. Marsha
      I’m thrilled for you. You are such a good writer. Your blog will be great. Let me know when you launch.
      This is my third blog (my first was about cancer, second was an information blog for my grade 6/7 classroom, and now I’m on my third, a rambling other side of the page writer’s life kinda thing that is part of my author platform, lol). Each time I planned a blog I tried to write posts ahead of time, but it didn’t work for me. I find the fresher the content the better. But I love the idea of having a bank of developed work.
      Best of luck
      Jo-Ann

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      1. LOL I’m kind of concerned about the timliness of the posts, too. But at heart, I’m a rule follower. 🙂 And Kristen is one of the gurus with SM. Even if I don’t ever use the ones I’ve written, I think they’re a good practice. Biggest issue for me is not finding words to say. LOL I have 4 separate posts on my experiences walking in the mall! One of the “rules” is to not make the posts too long. That’s a challenge fo me. :), Figuring out how the pictures work and making sure I’m giving the right kind of credit is a slow process. But I’ll get it. Just takes me a while. I do love your blog. Keep putting those things out there, keep writing, and keep sending out the queries. We’ll break through. I’m sure of it!

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  4. Great post – gotta love Donald Maass, AND Mary Buckham! Good for you for constantly learning, practicing, learning, and practicing! Love the flowers, sorry they took so long to download. Keep up the great work! Lisa McManus Lange

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