How Is Your Novel’s “Plumbing”? with ROW80 Wrap-Up

Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, the day I share something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life.

The current A Round of Words in 80 Days round finished last week. This is a writing challenge I’ve participated in for some time–setting goals, tracking progress, reporting weekly, and encouraging others. I like both the flexibility and accountability built into the ROW80 approach.

My goals this round were straightforward:

  1. Edit/rewrite SHARING HUNTER, a YA contemporary novel.
  2. Edit two short stories–one needs a final polish, the other a full edit.
  3. Read 10 fiction books.
  4. Finish craft book: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson.
  5. Visit and comment on five ROW80 blog posts per week.
  6. Attend at least one RWA meeting.

What did I accomplish this round?

I edited both of those short stories, wrote and edited a third, and then drafted half each of two more short stories. Why all the short stories? I think they’re a good length to keep writing while editing a larger project like a novel. What do I plan to do with them? Good question. I’ll keep y’all posted.

I read 13 books, which was a good number. I plan to keep my goal of 10 books each quarter, which would make a total of 40 books per year. That’s less than one book a week, but a good pace for me.

I finished Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. Although the title is a bit off-putting, the book was excellent. Yes, I recommend this one for YA writers. I took extensive notes and plan to re-read them soon.

I kept up with ROW80 updates from others pretty well. If I didn’t visit your blog, I’m sorry! I tried to move around a bit, but I don’t track where I’ve been and haven’t. All in all, the participants posted plenty of progress. Go you!

I attended meetings of three RWA chapters and returned to one of the chapters last week. I am joining the Bay Area Houston RWA, which is an active, welcoming group close to home.

So yeah, it looks like I did great. Except that my main goal–editing my young adult novel, SHARING HUNTER–hasn’t happened. Here’s the thing: I love this story, but I’ve known that something about the novel wasn’t working. After some editing some chapters, false starts on others, and much contemplation, I’ve determined that the problem is structure. I need to replot the book.

Basic Plot Structure by Kaede4 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I liken this to my house’s plumbing. We bought an older house a few years ago and had a few plumbing issues. At first, we brought in plumbers to work on the fixtures and visible plumbing lines. That helped for a bit. But the problems continued, and we discovered that we needed to replace our thirty-year-old piping. Out went the old pipes, and in went the new (at a price I can’t state without choking a little). Things improved.

But eventually, we had plumbing problems again. Why on earth was this happening? We’d replaced all of the pipes! As it turns out, there was a big broken sewage line pipe…under our house. Yep, when they were building houses in the 1970s here, they put all of those big plumbing pipes under the house, where they are nearly impossible to reach. So all of those lines, and the line that ran in our back yard to the city’s sewer connection, had to be replaced (at a price I can’t state without gasping a lot).

How’s our plumbing now?

It’s great. Everything works like a dream. (Praying that statement didn’t just jinx it.)

Likewise, I have fixed my novel at the edges and then deeper in, but it’s not going to flow smoothly until I repair the underlying structure–the part that’s harder to reach now that the book is complete. But it can be done. Like I said…love the story, want to write this book.

Thus, I’m going back through my plotting resources, which include the craft books Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell (which gave me a neat epiphany the other day), and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. I’m typically a “plantser” myself–plot some, write by the seat of my pants the rest of the way. But this time my structure needs shoring up.

So writers, what other plotting resources do you recommend? What has worked for you? And to all, how was your week?

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7 thoughts on “How Is Your Novel’s “Plumbing”? with ROW80 Wrap-Up

  1. Sometimes hiding things “out of sight, out of mind” isn’t all that wonderful an idea. Sorry to hear about your bill (or the fact that you effectively made what was probably an unnecessary repair of the original plumbing before you found the real problem). Hopefully you got some grist for the writing mill from these experiences as well as the idea of underlying support systems, Julie.

    It’s only fair, after all.

    As for the The Dummies books… They’re usually pretty good. The competing series The Idiot’s Guides never seemed as comprehensive in my opinion. Though I do know that some people love though.

    1. Thanks, Eden. I’m actually glad we replaced everything in the plumbing. I just wish we’d done in the opposite sequence. LOL.

      The replotting is going GREAT! So excited about the new story plan. Thanks!

  2. You do wonderfully this last round!!

    As for the re-plotting, just like plotting, each story seems to need something different. I’m trying something I stumbled upon on YouTube 3-9-27 = 3 Acts, 9 Blocks, 27 Chapters. We’ll see how it goes 🙂 Glad to hear your re-‘plumbing’ is going well. Wishing you all the best with the story!

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