Handy Advice for Writing Plot Structure and Outlining a Novel
Plot development can be a challenge for both aspiring and published novelists who are working on a new book. To build a great story structure that will carry you through to a finished novel, you have to take a closer look at your plot and work out kinks that may come up as you’re writing.
In the free online download, Plot Development: Charts and Tips for Outlining and Plotting a Novel, we offer five resources that will help you with writing plot from the beginning of the novel to the challenging middle, through to a meaningful ending. In addition to plot development charts that help you work through common problems, you’ll find insights and worksheets that help you work with writing subplots and developing side characters.
This selection of resources from our Writer’s Workbook series includes plot development worksheets, methods for story mapping, techniques for working through problems when you’re stuck, and charts for evaluating whether your plot is working. Download this collection to get started today.
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Preview: Creating a Story Map and Plot Development Chart
What is my novel missing? How can I develop this single idea? Is my story structure complete?
Sounds like you need a story map to help you with plot development and outlining a novel. Just as a road map helps you plot your travel plans, a story map serves as a visual outline that helps you see the direction your story is taking and whether you’ve overlooked any major points of interest along the way while you’re writing plot structure.
Here are three keys to successfully navigating your own:
INTRODUCE A STORY MAP AT ANY STAGE OF YOUR WRITING PROCESS. If you’re just beginning your story, implementing a story map will help you see where to start and where to spin off ideas to move your piece forward. As you map your ideas, you’ll discover that they help to propagate more ideas. Especially if you’re stuck at a particular point in your novel, you may want to update or create a new map so it reflects—or creates—fresh ideas and story structure. If you’ve already outlined or written most of your story, a story map may point out where your structure is weak or not fully developed by what you can’t fi ll in, or by what you’re struggling to answer.
BE LOOSE. You’re simply placing on a chart what you understand about your story. Everything you write can be considered a placeholder until you develop a stronger idea. Sometimes what you think is the beginning hook may change to be the climax or a conflict once you better understand your story. For now, write what you know—and put it where you think it belongs. You can always change it once you have a clearer understanding of what you’re writing about.
USE PHRASES IN YOUR MAP THAT CAPTURE YOUR IDEAS BY SHOWING RATHER THAN TELLING—JUST AS YOU WOULD IN YOUR FICTION. For example: Mary lets Bill know she’s angry is telling, while Mary rips up their marriage certificate shows the story, has more energy and takes the idea to the next level, which oft en leads to the next idea.
Learn more and start writing plot ideas that can carry you through the tough spots and take your idea to completion.
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