Topic A: The Plot
Categories: Brainstorming, World building, Story Set-up
Topic B: The Characters
Categories: Initial Creation, Background, Complexity
Topic C: The Writing
Categories: The Vital First Chapter, Your Inner Editor, Writers Block
Welcome back, writers! Today I’m going to cover plot structure and creating a basic outline for your book. I know, outlines sound like school material. Just remember, this is for your book. It’s your choice, and planning can be very helpful when you’re writing!
For some people, it’s easy to just dive right into the book and see where it takes you. For others, however (including me), it’s nice to know the direction the book is going in. You don’t need to be crazy with the details, but it’s good to at least have a general idea.
First, figure out what your plot is. What’s the story you’re trying to tell? Try telling someone the basic idea of your book. Do they find it interesting? If not, try to decide if the story is really worth telling. Don’t be descouraged if they don’t seem into it (or even if you aren’t really into it). You just need to make it more exciting. Readers aren’t going to stick around unless you get them hooked, which is what you should strive to do. It can be hard for some people to take criticism, but as a writer it’s important to open your ears. Readers know best!
Now that you have a basic plot, decide what event gets the plot rolling. Does the main character’s mom die, her last words leading them on a life-changing journey to a distant universe?
Get a notebook and write ‘beginning’ at the top, ‘middle’ in the (you guessed it) middle, and ‘end’ on the bottom. Write the leading event in the beginning. You can add things between these sections as ideas come to you.
For some people, it’s easier to plan the end before the middle, so if you’d like you can switch the next two steps.
Time for the middle. Your character is on their journey (either physical or mental). Usually, as you’ve probably heard, the middle is the climax. This can vary depending on the book; yours might end with the rising action and climax. Decide what the turning point is in your novel, when the character either learns something or makes an important decision that pushes them toward their end goal (or doomed fate… muah ha ha!).
Lastly, the end. How will your story close? Will it end with a cliffhanger that will leave your readers feeling empty? A happy ending, as everyone hopes for? Is it a tragedy? You don’t have to decide now, but knowing before you write it can help you to feel more driven. Having an outline makes it easier to see your progress, instead of just putting words on paper.
After you have these three main sections written down, you can begin to fill in the empty spaces. Add as many or as few plot points as you like, it’s completely up to you.
I hope these tips were helpful. Make sure to tell me if you try it out! If you’d like to tell me about your book (for advice or support) I’d love to hear from you. Just shoot me a message using the ‘contact’ page!
Thanks for reading. Tomorrow I’m moving on to Section B, Characters (One of my favorite parts of writing). Until next time,