by James Scott Bell
Long, long ago, on the planet Plotto, there lived a king named Story and a queen named Structure. So deep was their love that they knew neither of them alone could rule the planet justly. They needed each other. So did the people.
Thus, together, King Story and Queen Structure ushered Plotto into its golden age.
Naturally, they were thrilled when a royal baby was born.
But alas, an evil villain, Vektor Formless, hatched a plan to blow up the planet. The plan was discovered, but not in time to stop the Formless Doomsday Machine countdown.
With tears in their eyes, King Story and Queen Structure lovingly placed their baby into a little rocket ship and sent him to a distant blue planet.
The rocket came to rest in a field in Kansas. An elderly couple, the Essbees, found the baby and decided to raise him as their own. They named him Jay.
As Jay Essbee grew, he began to understand that his mother was a frustrated writer. She had been working on a novel for years, and it was now being rejected by publishers in the east.
This made his mother sad, and Jay Essbee wanted her to be happy.
One day he went into the study and found his mother’s manuscript. He read it all the way through in an hour.
When his mother came in and saw Jay sitting in a chair with her pages on his lap, she was astonished.
“What are you doing with my book, Jay?” she asked.
“I read it, Mother,” Jay said.
“But you’re only eight years old!”
“And yet I read it and understood it.”
Mother Essbee trembled into a chair. “What … did you think?”
“I think there is a germ of a great plot, Mother. But the first act drags, and the main character is not forced through a doorway into a great conflict. Some of the scenes lack tension. The plot meanders in places. There is some definite sagging in the middle.”
For a long moment Mother Essbee sat frozen, staring at the boy. Then she cried out, “Father!”
Father Essbee came running into the room.
“Our son,” Mother Essbee said, “is a book critic!”
“Not a critic,” Jay said. “I can help you fix these things.”
“But how?” said Mother Essbee.
“It must be he has powers from his own planet,” Father Essbee said.
Over the next few weeks, Jay Essbee worked with his mother on her manuscript. When they were finished, Mother Essbee sent it to an agent in New York. The book sold at auction for a million dollars and then to the movies for another million.
After the movie premiere, Mother and Father Essbee took Jay out for ice cream. Mother Essbee said to her son, “We cannot keep your wonderful gift to ourselves. You must take it to the world. Henceforth, you shall be known as Plotman.”
She produced a little costume with a large P on the front, and a cape with the same P. No one seems to know how the costume grew right along with Jay and still fit him when he was an adult.
But we do know this: Plotman has sworn to uphold plot, story, and the bestselling way!
JSB: Thanks for indulging a little whimsy. All this is to introduce my new writing book, PLOTMAN TO THE RESCUE: A TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE TO FIXING YOUR TOUGHEST PLOT PROBLEMS. The ebook is available here:
And just a note, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo next month, this book will be a perfect companion for the days when you sit down and go, “Now what?” or “What the heck is this?” Plotman, along with his faithful sidekick Subplot Boy, will appear to help you faster than a speeding bullet … or at least as fast as you can click to a chapter.