Planning and Plotting

I know, it sounds like I'm up to no good, doesn't it? It sometimes feels that way too. Think about it. Writers plan, we plot. We twist up characters in complicated pasts, we torture them and make sure that we ratchet up the tension. That's the other thing . . .are the stakes high enough. There are some books where the conflict just doesn't seem to be that big. Save one life? Is that really high enough stakes? I think it could be. I got involved in a conversation at DukCon that past weekend about stakes and conflicts. Can novels be too over-plotted? Can high stakes be too high? I think they can be.

Some of my kids love the Maximum Ride books--James Patterson's kids books. I read, I think four of them, before I set them to the side. They were just exhausting. There was no down time at all with the characters. They were always running, fighting, fleeing. What character introspection we got was literally on the fly. In that case, for me, the story was over-plotted. Terry Goodkind's books were like that for me as well. I loved them up until about the fifth one. There are only so many times that I can really care about characters being put in the same sort of life and death situations before I don't care anymore.

What do you think? Is there such a thing as too much plot in a story? Can the stakes be too high? Or too low?


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