Well lesson 6 is very important as it’s about plot. And obviously without plot a story is dead on it’s legs. So us writers really need to get it right! 🙂
Plot is the lifeblood of your story. It’s the main reason that a reader gives your book a chance in the first place and continues to read it and be enthralled in it as it develops. Plots can’t be predictable so we need to avoid cliches. Most of us when we start have an idea about the story and an idea of where it may go but that’s only part of plot. Filling in the rest of the plot is where the hard work begins. So without further ado, let’s get cracking on what we can do to improve our plots …
1. Characters Drive Plot
I often hear people coming up with their plots before their characters. It’s a valid way of doing it but I think it’s easier if you come up with the two together or the character before the plot. If you think about real life the things that happen us in our lives are often because of our personalities and how we go about getting on in the world so your characters’ personalities, jobs, beliefs, etc … will help you to decide what kind of plot will work for them. Plot is your structure, your characters are the heart of that structure and in sync it can be a magical authentic combination. You’ll still have to work on the plot but let your characters do a bit of the work!
2. Unpredictable Plots Are Best
Ok, this can be a difficult one because when you write in genres there tends to be a structure and readers who read that genre are expecting your book to follow that structure eg. Mysteries: crime committed, crime investigated, big reveal. So you probably should stick to that. But the way of doing the plot doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s. This comes down to your writer’s voice. When you allow your writer’s voice to flow your plot will never be predictable. Don’t copy other writers. Be inspired but never copy them. So if you have a mystery your killer may not be brought to justice, in a romance the couple might not end up together.
3. Plot Prompts
If you are struggling there is numerous sites online with plot prompts. They can be useful but take the bits you like to mould into your story, don’t take the complete prompt because then you will struggle to write it because we write stories rather unsurprisingly better that are our own ideas so make sure 2/3 of the idea is yours.
4. To Outline Or Not Outline, That Is The Question …
Personally I don’t really write outlines for my stories. Maybe some notes here and there. But every writer is different so you’ll need to determine what works best for you. But if you are doing an outline, be prepared to throw parts of it away if it doesn’t fit while you are writing a story. That is kind of the con of an outline. Where the pro is that outlines help a writer feel more organised and know where they are going better, the con is that many writers feel they must stick to the outline even when they really want to write something else into the story. To not outline doesn’t mean going into your story with no idea of where it’s going so have ideas for parts and then let the plot flow with freedom. If you want to go the more traditional outline route here’s an interesting article for you that might help:
5. Your Plot Must Come From Your Heart
Writers often say I can’t think of a plot. 99% of the time they can but they are scared to go with it and the main reason is usually that it doesn’t sound like other plots on the market. That’s the time to actually go with the plot. It’s original. It’s coming from you and no one else can tell that story and hasn’t yet. Maybe it’ll be liked, maybe it won’t but you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try. It’s much better than using a plot that has been used over and over to death before. It at least gives you a chance. Be brave. Believe in your writing, believe in your plot. If you don’t, no one else will.
Key Points Summary
- Plot is the lifeblood of your story.
- Characters drive plot.
- Your plots shouldn’t be predictable. Your writer’s voice will help them not to be.
- Plot prompts are a great help if you get writer’s block but most of the idea should still be your own.
- There is pros and cons to both outlining and not outlining. The decision of which to do is your own personal decision of what works best for you.
- Your plot must come from your heart. In order to convince others to believe in it, you must believe in it.