PLOT DOCTORING, the sign outside the forum read. It had been a day since Mia last traveled the forums, and this time she was determined to find a plot, or at least find someone would give her some good advice. Lots of people were milling in and out of this forum, and given its name, she figured that it would be a good place to start.
There were three sticky rooms in this forum. Dares, one read, and Mia didn’t even have to push this one open, as other people were milling in and out, and a short male Wrimo pushed the door open for her.
“Dares!” someone yelled in the corner. “Get your dares here!”
Mia read on the wall. There it was on the wall.
What is a dare? Quite simply, a dare is something silly that you put in your novel because you can. You can work it into your plot or you can just throw it in there.
Interesting, Mia thought. I could go with a few dares right now. She listened in as Wrimos all over the rather large room for a thread started throwing dares around.
“I dare you to include a singing hairbrush in your novel!” one Wrimo yelled. “Bonus points if it’s well-known for singing. Double bonus points if it’s a major plot point. Triple bonus points if it’s your main character.”
Another Wrimo across the room yelled to the first Wrimo, “Dare accepted! Now I dare you to include a character who refuses to speak with the letter E in their vocabulary. Bonus points if the character goes out of their way to avoid the letter E. Double bonus points if they go out of their way to replace THE. Cookies if it’s the main character.”
The room fell silent.
“What? No one?” the Wrimo said. “Ah well. I’m still taking a bunch of dares anyway.”
“Hey, what are these dares, and why are they useful?” Mia yelled across the room, trying to take advantage of this silence.
“You just throw them in your novel,” the e-free Wrimo yelled back. “Maybe your novel really does need a character who refuses to use the letter e. Throw them in there. Maybe you’re stuck and need a way out. Dares provide a way.”
“But aren’t most of your dares a little… silly?”
Several people, including the e-free Wrimo, gasped. “Silly, you say?” the e-free Wrimo asked. “Of course! That’s part of the point. But writing fifty thousand words in a month is hard. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. You’re going to get stuck at some point. These are just ways to get out of that jam. Sometimes it just takes a little silliness.”
“Well, there won’t be any silliness in my novel, thank you very much.”
“Hey, what are you writing about, anyway?” the singing hairbrush Wrimo asked. He had just accepted a dare to include a character with a phobia of NaNoWriMo in his novel.
“I don’t know,” Mia had to admit.
“No idea at all?” Singing Hairbrush Wrimo asked. Mia shook her head. “Then you should check out the Adopt a Plot thread. Come with me.” Singing Hairbrush Wrimo grabbed Mia by the arm and led her out of the Dares room and into another room at the end of the first floor.
This room was almost as big as the dares room, and people were running in and out of here too. Fewer people were accepting plots, though, while more people were yelling plots across the room. Somehow, possibly by the magic of the room, the plots were getting written down on the wall. Mia watched as plot after plot wrote itself on the wall.
“Well,” Singing Hairbrush Wrimo said. “Here you go. Here are all the plots you’ll ever need.” Mia paused and listened for a minute.
“Moira is a lawyer in her pajamas,” one Wrimo yelled across the room. “She does this quite well from the comfort of her desktop chair, and the role of Internet lawyer pays quite well. One day her Internet lawyer license gets revoked, and she has to get a real job. Unfortunately, no one believes her when she puts her Internet lawyer credentials on the resume. What does she do?”
Mia shook her head but was willing to give a few more potential plots a try. Internet lawyers? This was silly talk.
“Two lovers find their way out of a wormhole, but how did they get there in the first place? Each of them remembers only part of the story thanks to the effect of the wormhole. Tell that story,” another Wrimo yelled across the room.
“But I don’t even write science fiction!” Mia exclaimed. “This isn’t for me, really, it isn’t. I want to write a serious plot.”
“There are serious plots here,” Singing Hairbrush Wrimo replied. “You haven’t heard all of them yet. Just keep listening.”
Mia crossed her arms, refusing to believe, but figured that if it became too ridiculous, she’d just walk out.
“After Caroline’s mother dies, Caroline is left to deal with her mother’s estate. While doing so, she discovers that her mother was a well-known singer back in the day and has a hefty estate that is now Caroline’s. How does Caroline manage it?”
“See, I told you they were serious,” Singing Hairbrush Wrimo said. He may as well have added “I told you so”. Mia didn’t believe him.
“These aren’t serious plots!” Mia exclaimed.
“Serious plots?” Singing Hairbrush Wrimo asked. “Who said they needed to be serious?”
“I do!” Mia said, throwing her hands in the air. “These plots just sounded like you pulled them out of your ass or something. Internet lawyers? Lovers in wormholes? Okay, the third one’s not so bad, but really? Who would write a whole book about that? I wouldn’t pick that up at the bookstore if it were a matter of life or death.”
Singing Hairbrush Wrimo took a step back. “Whoa there, calm down, lady,” he said. “Just chill out. Most of these aren’t meant to be your exact plots. A bunch of us have no clue where to start in our plotting. Take a minute and think. Where do you get your ideas for stories anyway?”
Mia stopped and think. Where did she get her ideas, anyway? To be honest, she couldn’t really remember. Most of the time she just said she was going to write about something and then crafted her idea until it was perfect. She told Singing Hairbrush Wrimo this and then added, “But I need the motivation to do that.”
“See?” he said. “This is what NaNo is for. We give you that little push you need. Not everyone can have a plot fall out of the sky and onto their brain. Now stop nibbling at my pants.” He looked down. Another plot bunny had gotten loose, this one deciding to make a delicious meal out of his jeans. “But I already have a plot!” he yelled. “You can’t start nibbling on my pants now!”
The bunny meeped. Mia just thought the meep was a meep, but apparently Singing Hairbrush took it to mean something completely different. “Of course,” he replied. “My real plot bunny is over in the Plot Bunny Daycare Center at the moment, getting tamed and nourished before the first. I can’t take care of it all the time. If I did I wouldn’t have time to do anything else.” The bunny meeped again. Singing Hairbrush ignored the bunny and turned back to Mia. “Anyway, as I was saying, just use these as a jumping point. You never know what’ll come. And if you reject your own ideas, drop them off here. Someone will want to use them. Now excuse me, I have a plot bunny to pick up.” Singing Hairbrush ran out the door of Plot Doctoring, the bunny chasing him out the door.
Mia followed him but waited for the door to slam before going out the door herself.
What am I going to write about? Mia thought. I need to write about something serious. None of these crazy wormhole lover shenanigans. She grabbed a stick and started doodling in a patch of sand.
“I know!” she said. I’ll write about an unemployed new college grad. She needs money to pay off her outstanding college debt and tries to get a job. Of course, the economy’s really bad, so she can’t get a job and the rest of her life blows up. A few more doodles in the sand convinced her that idea was lame.
I can’t write about that, Mia told herself. That sounds ridiculous. And what would she do, go on game shows to try to win money? I mean, Wheel of Fortune wouldn’t be so bad, but Jeopardy can get hard if you don’t know your ancient mythologies. Mia shuddered. She’d have to do research for that. NaNoWriMo was only a week away. She didn’t have time for that!
Then another idea came. What if…. Ooh! What if a starving artist was struggling to communicate some serious societal issue through his art? He could be using his art to incite a revolution, and no one is seeing it until thirty years later when his art is studied in major university art classes and it hits the cover of textbooks. Of course, he’d be dead by then. He got killed during the revolution.
No, Mia thought, shaking her head again. That won’t work either. Even that had some absurdity to it. Art? I don’t know anything about art! And then I’d have to write fight scenes and I SUCK at writing action, and… bleh. Mia tossed that idea aside too.
But then she remembered what Singing Hairbrush Wrimo (as she took to calling him; she never bothered to look for his name tag) said. She could take those unwanted plots to the Adopt A Plot thread. She ran back into the Plot Doctoring forum and pushed the door open to the Adopt A Plot thread. The room was still active, and a few people were still there from before.
“I have plots for you!” Mia yelled. “Now hear this! The first idea is as follows! I beseech thee to write about a recent college grad who is unemployed! She tries to get a job but can’t thanks to the economic situation. Sucks to be her, doesn’t it?” Everyone nodded, and a Wrimo with a mohawk ran up to Mia.
“I’ll write about that!” Mohawk Wrimo yelled. “I still don’t have a plot yet!”
“Really?” Mia asked, skeptical that her idea was really all that interesting.
“Of course. Just think. She could go on the Price is Right. Or even revive it since it’s no good anymore. Come on, Bob Barker was an icon, but she could be the next one.” His eyes lit up.
Mia shook her head. This sounded ridiculous, but whatever. She wasn’t the one writing it.
We’re up! Sorry this is late, but I had a busy day and met Neil Gaiman today! Squee! He even signed Good Omens for me. A proper review of that will come tomorrow.
Thank you so much for your support, your comments, your links, etc. so far. They mean so much to me and make me ponder the possibility of writing outtakes even more when the whole thing is posted. You never know.
Feel free to link this on your blog, Twitter, whatever. Just don’t pass this off as your own, and we’re cool.
I highly encourage you to donate to the Office of Letters and Light, the nonprofit organization that runs NaNoWriMo, if you enjoy this tale of noveling madness. If you donate in the new year, your donor goodies will appear in the month before the event you donate to (NaNoWriMo or Script Frenzy).
If for some strange reason you’re really into giving money to Internet strangers who write somewhat humorous things, I won’t complain. You can do that at the link below.