Thursday, December 19, 2013

Return to Plot

Because I am deep into Christmas cookie dough, I am recycling an article. Enjoy everyone, and try to stay on the Nice List, Murderers. Readers, PLEASE-- Buy books this year!

We all plot our books differently. The ways and means are as individual as our DNA. They say there are only so many master plots in the world. But your take on any of those, well, that’s the fun stuff.

I have created a short list of questions to get the ball rolling for plotting your book. This is by no means complete, nor is it set in any sort of concrete.

1. Create the theme or story idea, what is this book about?
2. Who is telling the story?
3. Who is the supporting character(s)?
4. Are they mentors, villains, sidekicks?
5. How do they know the main character?
5. Where does the story take place?
6. What is the inciting incident?
7. What is the conflict?
8. How is this resolved?
8. How will it end?

Also, under the conflict idea, you need to know what the character wants. What is their main motivation, and why is it that they cannot have it? These are the building blocks of good conflict. A writing instructor once said, give the character two choices, sucky or suckier, and you will have a book that keeps the reader turning pages.

And you can do the plotting backwards, which is a very clever way some authors in the mystery genre start their planning out. If you already know whodunit, you can certainly figure out why, how, and when and where it happened.

Remember, a plot is just the building plan, the architectural drawing of the story. Plot, the scheme of things, is transformed by persons, places or things. Add in color, dialogue, setting, and suspense, or humor and you have a real book in your hands.

Vary the structure to fit your story’s needs, but remember there is a theme to everything. Keep your mystery mysterious, your romance romantic, and your fantasy otherworldly, or you may create confusion for the reader. They like to know that what is on the cover is within the pages, too. Sheesh. Nothing like picking up a book with a sexy guy on the front to find out he’s not a romantic interest for the heroine, but instead a sheep herder/murderer/Martian, and this is a western historical/fantasy. (kidding)

Finally, if you can tell the difference between the following two sentences, you know plot.

“The dog ate my homework.” Or “The dog ate my homework because he hates me.”

1 comment:

Aaron Lazar said...

Great article, Kim! Thanks for sharing it again - can't get too much of good advice! Merry Christmas!