It's easier than you think. The secret is to incorporate the 8 Basic Plot Elements.
Plotting is the process of describing your novel in summarised form, usually before you start the actual work of writing it. First, it can be very useful in the writing of your novel, especially when you start to lose your way.
Second, it's much quicker to read, revise and rewrite a two page summary than a four hundred page novel.
It's easier to spot flaws and it's easier to get an overview of the whole book. So why doesn't every author write a plot outline? I don't know about other authors, but I never liked plotting and I never enjoyed writing to a detailed outline. Once I'd spent days or weeks on the plot, writing the book was just like going to the movies and watching a film I'd seen ten or twelve times already.
I knew what was coming, and frankly I found it quite boring.
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What I used to do was map out a few scenes ahead of where I was writing and basically stumble along until I reached the end of my novel.
That worked fine, except that I never knew how long a novel would take to write, and I'd end up with loads of dead ends and stray scenes. It was creative and spontaneous, yes, but it was also inefficient and very slow going. After my first novel was accepted by a publisher I had to work with their editor to revise and improve it.
She read my book and pointed out the flaws, as all good editors do, and also pointed out the bits which worked well. My job was to fix the flaws and make them more like the good bits.
At first I considered sitting down and rewriting the whole book, but then I realised she'd have to read the thing all over again, and would no doubt make another batch of suggestions or even tell me the first version was better!
So, instead of rewriting the book I wrote a detailed outline. It was very comprehensive - 14 pages long in the end - but it was short enough to read in a sitting. My editor commented on the outline, I made changes, and eventually we ended up with a document which we both thought would make a good novel.
So how do you write this outline?
How do you create a plot in the first place? I can't tell you how to come up with your story ideas and characters, although my article on how to write a novel has some pointers.
What I can tell you is that once you have the basic idea it's just a case of fleshing it out in more and more detail until you have a plot. Let's use something really basic: A woman arrives home from work to discover her husband has been kidnapped.
Unable to call in the police, she uses her initiative to trace his recent movements and discover who might have taken him - and why. Then she rescues him and they live happily ever after. Freemind runs on Windows, Mac and Linux, and is free to use.
I'd put those three sentences down and label them 'beginning', 'middle' and 'end'. You can use paper, or a word processor, but I prefer to use Freemind.The first element to include in your plot outline is the Story Goal, which we covered in detail in the previous article, The Key to a Solid Plot: Choosing a Story Goal.
To summarize, the plot of any story is a sequence of events that revolve around an attempt to solve a problem or attain a goal. Create a plot outline for your novel in the way suggested below.
You may find you can strengthen your novel plot considerably by incorporating any plot element you neglected before. 1. A plot device is a means of advancing the plot in a story.
It is often used to motivate characters, create urgency, or resolve a difficulty.
This can be contrasted with moving a story forward with dramatic technique; that is, by making things happen because characters take action for well-developed reasons. Creating a scene list changed my novel-writing life, and doing the same will change yours too. Includes examples of the scene lists from famous authors.
To help you successfully complete your book in 30 days, here are nine worksheets to help you keep track of plot, scenes, characters and revisions. All of these worksheets originally appeared in Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt and were also featured in the special issue Write Your Novel in 30 Days.
Here are a couple of free blank templates I’ve developed to use with the One Page Novel Plot Formula. The first novel outline template is a Google Docs spreadsheet, and the second is for Scrivener. The first novel outline template is a Google Docs spreadsheet, and the second is for Scrivener.