What is a plot?
The dictionary definition of the word ‘plot’ relating to a story is:
“The plan or main story of a literary work” [Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary]
So the plot then, is the planned storyline.
Some writers fly by the seat of their pants, not knowing where they are going or how they will get there, whereas, other writers would never dream of writing a story or a novel without some initial planning.
If you were about to take a journey to a strange place, wouldn’t you think it would be wise to plan how you would get there, rather than leaving things to chance? Here, I’m going to share my secrets with you of how to develop a kick-ass plot!
Do’s and Don’ts of plotting a novel:
* Do think about your characters. Aim to find out as much as you can about them beforehand. Character drives plot.
* Don’t rush in without any forward planning, that is a sure fire way to give up at the first hurdle!
* Do ensure that you know and fully understand your characters’ motivations.
* Don’t rely on coincidences; you will be cheating the reader!
* Do ask yourself, what is the theme of my story/novel? By understanding what the theme is, you are more likely to understand the motivation of your characters.
* Don’t write any ‘next step scenes’ that do not advance the storyline, end in a hook to the next scene, do not move the characters closer to their goals, do not contain reasonable motivation or deepen characterization.
* Do think about creating character charts, back stories for main characters, a story board with ‘pictures’ of your characters and settings.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1.What do I want my novel to say? [Theme]
2.Which character is best able to say what needs to be said? [Characterization]
3. How can this message be conveyed to the reader? [Storyline]
4. Where is the action going to take place? [Setting]
Here’s an example:
The theme of my story could be about ‘Loss’. The character best to tell this story is the heroine who has lost both her parents in a car accident. The message can be conveyed to the reader via her dialogue and internal thoughts. She fears loss so much that she is unable to get close to the hero.
You will be able to build on this by asking yourself the following:
Who? Why? What? Where? When? How?
Who – Hero: Blake Carter, Heroine: Stephanie Dale
Why – They meet through work, he is the pilot, and she is an air hostess.
What – There is conflict between them when she finds out he is the man who humiliated her at a recent staff meeting.
Where – The action takes place on board the airplane and in Britain and Australia.
When – The time span is during the summer through to Christmas.
How – Although there is conflict, somehow they are drawn to one another.
Think of your romance plotline as the hero’s and heroine’s journey. The Hero’s Journey has been used in storytelling for hundreds of years. Both characters need to get from A to B. Place a few obstacles in their path for them to overcome during their journey. Make it an adventure. Then, just when all seems lost [the black moment], there needs to be a sacrifice made by the person who has the most to lose. Finally, they are triumphant, a victory is won.
Think about your plot. What are the bare bones of your story? Think about the paragraph above…how can you send your hero and heroine on a journey together?
Word count should be somewhere between 500 and 1000 words.
N.B: This will be a synopsis or summary of your story written in the present tense.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lynette Rees lives in South Wales. She has had many non fiction articles published, both in magazines and on the Internet. Lynette’s romantic comedy, A Taste of Honey, is due for release at Samhain Publishing in e-book format in April. Shortly afterwards, her romantic suspense novel, Return to Winter, will be released at The Wild Rose Press. Both books will also be published as paperbacks. http://silverlady00.tripod.com/