Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, either way, you’re right. Right?
Attitude is the first step in creating results. I’m all about the power of positive thinking. But sometimes, I think of this saying and it just makes me want to roll my eyes. I think I can, I think I can, just isn’t enough! I need action. I need direction. Give me some tools and show me how to use them!
When I’m faced with a problem, particularly a plot problem, I dive in with a can do attitude and attack, adding conflict, twisting the plot, and sometimes, like with my paranormal romance Soul Search, I go a little too far. Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! series refers to my plotting as Too Much Marzipan and I think it also contains Double Mumbo Jumbo.
Back in college, while my car was once again on the fritz, I borrowed my sister’s car for the week. Used to power steering, I was appalled at having to put all my weight and both arms to work to force her little beater to turn a corner. I asked her how in the world she managed to get anywhere, half expecting an insult to my scrawny muscles. She told me to put air in the tires. What the–? Air? Air. What did she think, I was stupid? Was she screwing with me? I went straight to the gas station for the sole sake of proving her wrong.
I cannot describe how pissed I was to drive home, able to steer the thing with one finger. She was right.
The lesson I learned is, oftentimes, the simplest solution is the best, right, solution. And though I have to remind myself every so often, it stuck. Keep it simple, sister.
Double Mumbo Jumbo and Too Much Marzipan refer to an author adding too many magical or high concept elements as an attempt to improve the plot. Really, both practices rob the story of it’s credibility and reader buy in. Soul Search, for example, has amnesia, time travel, a psychic, a guardian angel, a werewolf, vampires, and soul switching. Oh, and let us not forget, mentally conjuring objects out of thin air. Way too much going on here.
Next time you’re fighting to get a plot–or a problem–off the ground and flying high, ask yourself if all that muscle is really necessary. Maybe all you need is a little air in your tires. I hope this post gives you some today.