Saturday, February 26, 2011

In the Zone with Zee: Of Plots...

Hey beautiful people

26th of the month again, and I'm back on Tabby's Nocturnal Nights for the monthly Agony Zee advice column. I received a very peculiar question this month, one that got me thinking once I got over my 'horror'. Yes, this query mentions something horrible, to be absolutely prohibited in the world of writing. What is it? Read on for today's column:


Dear Agony Z,

I have been fiddling with a plot for a while now and I’m stuck while at two-thirds of the way.

I am not finding any good way to finish the story with this plot, and instead of ditching it completely, I have found a way to salvage it.

I am simply going to add in a new plot to take me through the remaining third.

Can you please advise as to how to merge the two plots seamlessly?


Lost in plot


Dear Lost in plot,

Please, please, please – STOP right there!

Do not, I repeat, do not, merge plots together!

One of the worst mistakes a writer can make is to go – oh, let me just add a plot here to perk it up.

Just like makeup only hides the flaw and doesn’t address the real issue, you too will not be addressing the issue and will simply aim to mask it.

A plot is something that should be carried through from start to end. If it isn’t working, there is a problem with your plotting, and adding in a new plot will only double your trouble as you’ll be doing the same thing with the second plot.

There is no masking of a plot, only working it.

Understand the concept first. Analyze your own story. Find avenues to address your problems. Play the 'what if' game, and think about what could happen in your story if...
Stuck in a corner? Turn around, look at the one-way street in which you got blocked, and walk back. Get to the entryway of this road, and from here look before you and shoot tangents - imagine you're in a white world with no perspective: shoot 5-6 tangents from there and see where they lead you to.

Every plot had a logical ending. Distance yourself from the work, and look at the global picture of this plot - where does it start, and where does it end? Work this as a layer over your story, to get to the resolution of your own original plot.

Then consider how to resolve your pending story. Adding in a new plot is not a solution.


Got a question for Agony Zee? Drop her a line at with your concern/issue/dilemma.

Zee Monodee
Author of stories about love, life, relationships... in a melting-pot of cultures

Zee is an author who grew up on a fence - on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she'd stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favourite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing - her heroines all sit 'on a fence', whether cultural or societal, in today's world or in times past.

Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee has been writing for close to a decade and has had 3 novels published so far (under other pen names). After a stint in the publishing industry, on the 'other side of the fence' as an editor, her goal today is to pen wholesome, fulfilling stories and help fellow authors, whether as critique partner or as freelance editor.

Find out more about her by checking her blog


Brenda said...

Excellent advice, Agony Zee.

Zee Monodee said...

Thank you, Brenda!

Sheri Fredricks said...

Oh Agony Z! Such great advice for a common problem. Using spackle to cover the blemish often times draws attention like a spotlight to the problem. And to have make-up look good on the face, hehe, it all begins with skin care. Love your analogies, love your column.

Nahno McLein said...

Very good point.

I think putting another plot in can work for A story, but not as a solution for a problem. I also think it's very hard to make two plots next to each other work. At this stage I think it's too late for that.
Nahno ∗ McLein

Nikki said...

Such great advice, I love reading
your blogs :)

Tabitha Blake said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tabitha Blake said...

Your advice was right on target. You have to deal with the issues and not just mask them. Another great blog as usual. I always get excited to see what you come up with next. LOL!

Zee Monodee said...

Hey Sheri

Lol, the analogy to skin care and makeup sounded perfect, something all women would understand and most men too would figure out. :)

Glad if the column was helpful.


Zee Monodee said...

Thank you Nahno.

Like you say, it 'can' work in A story, but it is not a solution. If ever anyone finds himself doing this, they should address the real problem - as in, why did I need to add a second plot in the first place? If someone can tackle that issue, they won't have this problem in another story.

Zee Monodee said...

Thank you Nikki. Glad if it was helpful. :)

Zee Monodee said...


It's a pleasure doing this column on your blog every month. I really enjoy helping others and thanks for this wonderful opportunity to do so.