OPP (Other People’s Plots)

I’ve spent a LOT of time recently critiquing my Writer Friends’ Works of Genius, and — while part of me thinks I should have been writing my own next Work of Genius — most of me knows it’s been time well spent. Every time I critique someone else’s manuscript, I get the chance to really read like a writer. When you do that — especially with an unpublished manuscript, that hasn’t been picked apart a billion times by professional editors — you learn something about what works and what doesn’t in your genre.

Recently, I’ve come to realize that I am surrounded by Writer Friends who have amazing Voice. Voice… Glorious Voice! Sure, the plotting and pacing may not be exactly perfect… but the Voice! Ah! Sing to me, my Children of the Night!

Um, back to the point. Lack of Voice has never been my issue. Like most pantsers (I’m a recovering pantser, actually. I’ve started plotting things out, after chucking enough manuscripts into the bin because of poorly-conceived and executed plots.), my issues are motivation… and plot.

So, I read this excellent article recently. I went to quite a few talks (local SCBWI meetings, etc.). And then I realized all those experts might actually know something. (I hate it when that happens.) All of a sudden, I’m not just reading my Writer Friends’ manuscripts with an eye for pacing and plot – I’m reading everything that way. I think — I hope — that by doing this now, in my in-between-new-novel time — I will be able to avoid a lot of the familiar sinkholes where I usually end up wallowing in my early draft days. So, I’ve decided that yes. Even though I hate slowing down to pick apart the books I’m reading, it’s a necessary step to making my work better.

Yes, I am down with OPP.

So, here’s my question:

You down with OPP?

PS – In other news, I’m working on two short fic pieces – one juvenile, one adult — and researching like mad for the new WIP. Once school starts, I’m going to hit the ground running. Woot! Who wants to read my oh-so-well-plotted first draft in November? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? LOL

Posted in Children's Fiction, Miscellaneous on 08/20/2010 05:29 pm


  1. I’m going to an SCBWI retreat featuring Kendra Levin in September. Can’t wait.

    Yes, I totally outline other people’s plots lately. I create actual spreadsheets w/my own plot in a separate column so that it’s glaringly obvious where mine’s going awry. Um, I also once re-typed a favorite author’s chapter book to get a feel for word count and chapter length. Actually, helpful. The things we have to learn the hard way . . . ha.


  2. Wow. I guess this post is my confirmation because I was thinking this very thing today! It always feels like one only has time to work one’s own story, but one can learn so much from helping others with theirs. I did bite the bullet and offer to do this with someone today who’s struggling.

    You definitely have voice! We met at Backspace and the first pages of your middle grade story were awesome. I still look at it from time to time. So yeah. If you want a reader in November, send it my way. I’m up for it! 🙂


    • Nikki Loftin

      Hi, June! Thanks for commenting, and for the sweet words. I’m trotting over to your website now…


  3. I think we’re going to be spending a lot of time together in November. I’m about to dive into a project I didn’t really have on my immediate writing agenda, but it won’t shut up so I think it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the ink.

    I’ll bring the hot chocolate. Yes, I’m being optimistic and hoping we’ll be able to drink hot chocolate in November this year. If not, I’ll bring iced tea — and some other form of chocolate!


    • Nikki Loftin

      Shelli – Oh, I could sue that company about now. Maybe I can bring my laptop and we can go to Texpresso again? And write together? LOL I’m such a girl.


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