Every word counts. I tend to skim and skip passages when I feel the plot of a novel is not moving. So I try to put myself in my future reader’s shoes (or, eyes) and make every effort to ensure the plot is not stagnant.
My notes as an English teacher inspired me, as did the blog of author Nikki Owen, to use the tried and true plot graph in order to achieve this goal.
For an explanation of each plot point see: how-to-plot-a-novel
Please note, I used this method once I had a very good understanding of my protagonists’ motivations and backstory, not before. Knowing my heroine and hero first helped me to plot their story.
The following steps might help you organize all of the wonderful ideas buzzing inside your head:
- In point form, list the main ideas of your novel
- Then, use the graphic above to plan where the main ideas should fall
- In point form, on the triangle, write down what will happen at each plot point in the novel.
- Then repeat this process for each chapter – draw a triangle, label the plot points, then write what will happen in the chapter at each plot point. This will ensure you have a clear goal for each chapter which includes a climax and a way to flow into the next chapter. (NOTE: ensure to use only the front of the page, keep the back blank for notes later on)
- And voila! Novel done. Haha! Kidding – if only it were that easy 😉 You won’t have a finished novel, but you will have a clear outline of each chapter when you sit down to write. And, since each chapter has been outlined on a separate sheet of paper, you may reorganize the chapters before you start writing.
In order to accomplish the above I bought a cheap notebook to keep my ideas together:
I found that this process helped me to stay focused during precious writing time (which is hard to obtain with marriage, career and children). Also when other ideas came to me as I wrote I could jot them down on the blank side of the page. If it was an idea which didn’t fit into the chapter or the novel as a whole, I was able to set it aside (after writing it down of course) for future books.
I hope this helps you on your writing journey! Please remember, every writer has her or his own process and this might not work with your style.
I’d love to know how other writers plan and plot out their works. What do you do when you start to write a novel?