Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sailing Through Your Plot: 5 Steps for Easier Execution

When you first conceptualize your story idea, writing flows free. As you write, new ideas join in and demand to be made note of for later and new characters arrive on the scene like it's a popular new club. This is a beautiful writing stage. But, even when it ends -- when you're fixing plot holes or are stalled, in need of new ways to move your plot forward; you can employ a few strategies to keep making progress on your story no matter the day or writing session.

Here are 5 Ways to Easier Execution:

1. Interview your characters.

Your characters (and your creative subconcious) know all sorts of details you need for your story. Ask your characters what motivates them and what they're scared of. This is helpful even for small details like what a character is wearing to his job interview, whether he is fighting hayfever, or if he is nervous about his bank balance. These give you a sense of what is of concern and what can move the plot forward plausibly.

2. Check back with your outline.

If you still need to make an outline, check out my free resource on the righthand sidebar. An outline helps to guide you when you are compiling ideas and want to combine them in an order that makes sense to your reader. It gives you a place to plug in those scenes written on envelopes or typed into notes on your phone. Outlines save time while allowing you to enter creative inspiration mode and let your mind explore, knowing you will have something to come back to and nothing will be wasted. (a note on finding out a scene does not fit after all -- do not throw it away! file it -- virtually or otherwise and use it as a resource for a future story that needs some more meat)

3. Explore your setting.

Setting often contributes to character and plot development. If a trendy coffee shop is nearby, the main character might decide to become a barrista, meet another important character there, or write some poems on a tiny table for one. Climate is going to determine what your character is wearing and what the local economy is doing (especially if it is a tourist town or a place with extremely cold winters) Use your setting to determine the direction of your story.

4. Map out character growth.

If you know your character is going to get less judgemental or defensive as she develops, put her in a variety of situations that will enable this to happen. Who does she have to meet? What will they say? What can she observe about life? Character growth is a great place to show not tell. Showing things makes your reader feel like they are discovering. Telling them makes them feel like you think they're stupid. Example: TELLING - Sara noticed she was feeling less defensive and judgemental. Contrast that with SHOWING - Sara couldn't remember the last time she had enjoyed a whole night out without worrying about what she was wearing, whether people liked her, or being put off by someone's unusual behavior. Jane was right, it was so much more enjoyable to live and let live. 

5. Ask why?

Going through your manuscript and asking why people are doing what they're doing means you will learn more about them. These character flaws and strengths will determine how they act later on in the story. Delving into that early on makes the story flow and make sense. Unless a character is growing or has had a life changing experience, you don't want them to start acting in a way that is not anything like what they have done in the past. Knowing a bit about them means you can introduce a plot twist and know instinctively how they will respond. 

Have fun employing these steps no matter where you are in your writing progress. They can be used more than one time. They are helpful in finishing up the first draft. They come in handy when you are filling plot holes identified in the second draft. And they are great for tightening up any loose ends before you send your manuscript off for its final copy edit. Feel free to share them with your writing community and compare how they work for you.

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