Are You a Plotter or Pantser?What is your preferred method of writing. Do you like to write freely with little more than a main idea as your direction? Or, do you prefer to outline your story or novel first, then allow your fingers to fly over the keyboard? I find that I write with more clarity and more efficiently if I have a plan. When I just “go for it” with little more than a main idea my rewrite is so laborious that I avoid tackling it for weeks at a time. So, I prefer to outline the basics of what I want to say, and let my creativity fly within that framework.
Considering what Plot is can be confusing. If Plot is “what happens”, why does the discussion instantly branch out to character development, inciting incident, tension building to the climax, etc., etc., etc. The answer is—story plot and story structure always go together. You cannot have one without the other.
Plot is “what happens” in a story. In essence, Plots are the events that move a character from one point to another shaping the story with conflict: inward and outward, emotional and physical. Each event brings an element of tension and conflict to the story. What should be the first step to developing the plot? Knowing what we want to say—then theme, and the creation of a main character, the protagonist.
The protagonist needs an intense goal with obstacles in the way of the goal. He or she must overcome each obstacle to reach the goal. The path through each event is dynamic as internal and external conflicts arise. This drives the action of the plot forward, and grabs our reader’s interest in such a way that they don’t put the book down.
Writing a story involves creativity and discovery. Ask yourself questions to uncover the events, the setting, and the conflicts. Ask, ask and ask some more. Follow the answers and keep asking why? Important connections will follow from this way to discovery.
A one-sentence premise is essential to a strong story. The premise will serve as a map to guide and focus the writing. It is a tough job to condense the story idea to one sentence, but it’s important and will be used again, and again as you pitch your book to agents, publishers, and consumers.
Plotting is an involved journey. Have fun with it!
Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor. She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors. Deborah writes articles, essays and stories. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series. Careful editing preserves the artist’s voice as they share their journey. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: DeborahLyn Stanley - Writers Blog. Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines.
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”