For authors: plotting tips

You might have a great idea and fantastic characters, but there has to be a plot in there or all you get is a series of events.

I’m a new author and, though I’d like to think that I can write semi-decently, I have trouble with my plots. I usually have an idea for a book, I know how to start and I know what the crisis will be. It’s the middle that tends to…well, sag. Between happy status quo and crisis, what happens?

Well, I found a great post to help me with my plotting issues. First, it explains what a plot should look like in very simple language (I like simple). It splits up the plot into 10 steps that every book should have and they’re very clear. I read it and a light just went off. If I had this as a skeleton for my ideas, I’d be so set! So, I thought I’d share it. Here’s the link:

But my issue is the saggy middle…well, it so happens that’s what this new post on the same blog is about. And, apparently, it’s an issue for new writers (ahem). The author is Harvey Chapman and he explains (again really clearly) how to avoid that saggy, dull middle. Turns out, what you need are mini-plots that connect. He explains it much better, though. Here’s the link:

But, if these didn’t do it for you, I found some others that might!

The one I liked the most is this one by Annie Neugebauer. She has a Novel Plotting Worksheet that has prompts and you just answer the questions and, voila!, you have a plot!

Simon Haynes has a great concept with his version (and he even has diagrams!).

Then I also found these two in less steps than my original 10. By Rachel Aaron, how to plot in 5 steps. By Glen C. Strathy. He uses 8 easy steps to get the job done.

I’ll add these to the Resources page!

Plot wars

I’m in the middle of a plot issue.

It’s the second book in a series. I have a hero I love and a heroine that deserves and challenges him. I have an idea of what I want the story to do. I know what their wounds and strengths are…but I’m fighting with the events that actually happen in said story.

I wrote the book last year. I really did. I wrote the entire thing from beginning to end. Let me tell you, it was not smooth sailing. I fought with the plot from the very beginning and only got through it by sticking to it and sheer will. I finally finished the book this summer…only to discover I didn’t like it. Worse, I couldn’t let it go that way. I thought it didn’t focus on the hero and heroine. It was simply blah.

So, I sat down and wrote another plot. I think this one focuses more on the two main characters and gives them more time to interact with each other. I hope it shows them in their best possible light. I hope it also challenges them into becoming better people and makes them face their wounds.

But, of course the only way to find out if it will do all that is to write it out. And there are no guarantees.

It was pretty gutting to realize I had done all that writing for nothing. Until I thought: wait a minute. I write for me. I write because I love to do it and not to get published or to be famous or to make money…well, maybe a little. Hee hee! No. Really, the point (I do have one, I promise) is that I love to write and this is another opportunity to do just that.

Even if the plot and I go to war again.




My characters are out of control

I don’t have obedient, quiet, demure characters. Mine, heroes and heroines alike, tend to be opinionated, sneaky and most definitely trouble. Even the smaller characters are difficult to keep in line.

I have a plot. It’s a nice, logical, well-ordered set of events that culminates in a well-organized, tidy happy ending. The trouble is none of my characters seem willing to follow said plot. They have their own ideas of what should be happening in the story and refuse to comply with commands.

It may sound silly but I think they’re up to something and I’m fairly certain it’s nothing good. I’m wondering if I should sit with them and explain that, as the writer, I’m the boss. Still, there are problems with that idea. For one, the characters are imaginary and if I start talking to them–well, it’s not a good sign. For another, they can’t help their rebellious nature, after all, I created them that way.

Perhaps acceptance is key.

Who knows, they might have a better idea for that tidy, well-organized plot.