Image by: PLOTmag
#1) There is no plot without character development.
I can just hear you now, “NO! The title of this post said plotting not character development!” Well, let’s back it up a little then. What is a plot?
Plot is when a series of events occur within a story (chronologically or not) that move the story along from beginning to end. Well, part of that has to do with how those events affects your protagonist.
Think about it. If Charlie wasn’t trying to be a good, participating member of the school, The Perks of Being a Wallflower would have been a boring diary entry. But that entire book was filled with events that made Charlie choose and affected him (thus affecting us because the author did such a good job making Charlie relatable).
#2) Planner vs. Pantser
I won’t begin to tell you whether or not you should outline your novel or just pick up a pen and start writing it. I don’t know you and I don’t know what works best for you. I can, however, tell you what works for me and hopefully it will aid you on your novel journey. Haha, get it?
I think I’m a little bit of both. I know, that’s cheating, right? Well, I’ve tried it both ways (“starting out with only an idea” and “planning out my entire novel, scene by scene”) and I’ve found that I was most successful when I came up with a basic outline and a character sketch sheet for each of my main characters. I work best with only a little bit of planning.
I normally use the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. It is meant for screenplays but I find that it really keeps the momentum going in my longer stories.
With all of that said, just remember that you know your creative process best. If you writer better not knowing the ending until 35 pages into the story, then don’t think about the ending until later. If you can’t write without every scene mapped out on their own notecards, which are plastered all over your house, then do that. No one way is right. There is only “what is right for you.”
#3) A Good Plot Consists Of…
Sorry, it’s not that easy. You might have a great idea for a story and some really dynamic characters but sometimes it takes a little tweaking to get it perfect. Don’t get discouraged (even if it is a little like training a cat how to fetch a ball or shoveling snow in a blizzard). I’m exaggerating of course. It’s more like shoveling snow with a spoon…in a blizzard. *pats you on the head*
My point is it will take a lot of different drafts, determination, and whiskey.
Don’t force your characters to do anything (“NO means NO!”) because that will just come out awkward. Make sure the conflict resolves on it’s own. Don’t add a magic potion at the end that will solve world hunger because (unless we are talking anime) your readers will feel cheated.
The absolute essential thing about a good plot though: Have fun. Writing is fun. It can be hard also but it is supposed to be fun (otherwise, why are you doing it?) No matter what genre you are writing in, your emotion will seep into your writing. It’s inevitable.
Readers can tell if you love your story or if you’re just trying to get it over with. Don’t underestimate them. They are smarter than you think. And they’re going to end up giving you all of their money, so don’t make them feel cheated.