Another amazing Hamline residency has ended and now we’re back into our writing.
As we endeavor to produce satisfying manuscripts, occasionally we might wind up with what some critics call a plotless, “slice of life” or “day in the life of” picture book, short story, easy reader, or even YA novel that rambles along without anything of significance happening or resolved.
A wag or two snickers and calls “plotless” books those that -- ha ha -- don’t get published.
These folks call "plotless" one with pleasant episodes in which a child goes shopping with parents or friends, spends a day at the circus or at the beach, or allows a glimpse of life in the neighborhood, nighttime, daddy/mommy at work, and other happenstances. Is that poor writing?
I guess it depends. Concept books often don’t have plots. They are informational or involve the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, relationships and other “concepts” for very young children to try to read and comprehend, but there’s nothing “bad” about them. Molly Bang’s Goodnight Moon and Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach have been identified as “plotless” but millions of readers love these books. Are they plotless books or do they qualify as something else?
Without plots books should have some form of vivid structure, quality writing or any other plausible selling point that would appeal to editors, according to the experts. Frankly, editors handle manuscripts with some kind of plot and narrative because they want to see manuscripts that will sell well and appeal quickly to children.
How would you define a plotless book? What’s its place in the world of books?