Magna Carta: a document or piece of legislation that serves as a guarantee of basic rights.
In “No Plot? No Problem!” we are urged to create two lists. These are inverses of one another and are meant to be used to keep us on track should we lose our way in writing. These will be our Magna Carta I and Magna Carta II.
The first MC, is created by answering this question: “What, to you, makes a good novel? …Anything that floats your fictional boat should go on this list.” (pg. 85) Baty gives some examples such as ‘first person narration’, ‘quirky characters’, and ‘true love’.
The second MC, is MCI’s evil twin. Ask yourself: What things bore or depress you in novels? Keep this list “close at hand, so you’ll remind yourself what not to put in your story.” (pg. 87) Baty’s list contains, among other things ‘irredeemably malicious main characters’, ‘books set on farms’, and ‘dysfunctional sibling dramas’.
“As you plan your book this week, remember, above all else, that your novel is not a self-improvement campaign. Your novel is a spastic, jubilant hoe-down set to your favorite music, a thirty-day visit to a candy store where everything is free and nothing is fattening. When thinking about possible inclusions for your novel, always grab the guilty pleasures over the bran flakes. Write your joy, and good things will follow.” (pg. 88)
Baty, C. (2004). No Plot? No Problem!. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.