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Monday, 28 October 2013

Plotting Techniques

LOST THE PLOT! - How to Develop a Good Plot

“A novel is a tricky thing to map.” - Reif Larsen (The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet)

A plot is a series of events in the story, which follows some logical order. The plot has 6 key points of call: The set-up, the inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action and the resolution.

There are some useful elements that all good writers use to help their plot flow steadily throughout their story. These elements are called:

  • Foreshadowing – this is when the writer uses a way of creating tension and rising conflict to move the story forward to its eventual outcome. This helps to give clues on what may occur or eventually be decided.           
  • Stream of Consciousness - the author uses the protagonist’s thoughts through interior monologues throughout the course of the story and allows the reader to get a sense of both the external action and the intimate thoughts and feelings about the events in the story. These thoughts do not need to be in a linear order. 
Personally, I feel that it is essential to have some kind of technique when it comes to coming up to creating a successful plot. It helps me to identify the key events in any story. Otherwise, it feels like I am lost in a world of long-winded setting descriptions and boring meaningless characters.

There are many different ways to plot your story. For example:

  • “Interconnecting Diagram” Method- Creating an inter-connecting diagram can help writers to structure their story. To start with, you should put the main plot/theme idea in the centre e.g. girl falls in love with vampire. From this, you can think of other plot ideas and then interconnecting all of them together to create an in-depth diagram. Once you have gathered all of your concepts, it may be a good idea to put them in order starting at the beginning to end. You can do this by placing each of the bubbles in chronological order on the timeline. It may useful to assign a word count for your whole book, for instance, if you want your novel to be 80K words and you have 16 pieces to the plot then you should have roughly 5,000 words each. It may also be useful to have some sort of key (yellow circles for build-up, red circles for main action, green circles for climax, blue circles for resolution/ending). 


  • “End is Near” Method – If you are the type of writer who sits for hours looking at a blank document, thinking of how to start. STOP! Write the end of the story first then work your way back to the start. For instance, the ending of my story could be: 

"David finally becomes king of Scrrynworld after marrying Annabel Scvhygdmann.” 

  • “Visual Boost” Method – Photographs. Drawings. Words from Newspapers. Book Covers. Use any visual aid to help you to create your plot. 
  • "Psychopath Notebook” Method – Okay. You've probably heard this one before at those wannabe writers’ conferences with a top-selling author guest speaker, but, using a notebook to jot down stuff to help you to come up with your plot is actually a very good idea. It also a good place to slot in anything you pick up on your travels that may help. For example, a cool postcard, a caption you saw on a poster at your local bus stop or even a quote from your favourite TV show. 
  • Free Writing” Method - This is the simplest way to overcome writers’ block. You just sit and write continuously for a period of time. It helps the author to tap into their stream of consciousness. 
Whether, you use one of the techniques listed above or have one of your own, it is always important to remember that plotting your story is vital in the process of creating a successful novel.

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