Writing can be frustrating. Many people in the past have asked me about what it takes to write a good fiction tale. In all honesty, it’s not exactly a walk in the part, but it can be broken down to a pretty easy science. Half of the problem is will power. So if you’ve already put your mind to it to write a novel, then you’ve already won a good chunk of the battle. Good for you!
However, setting up a good plot line is essential to a story and one of the first things that you will have to figure out when you sit down at the computer. Let’s just face it- when a story lacks direction and a tight plot, things can get messy. Even the most organized of writers can sometimes feel the urge to hit their head into a wall.
Fear not, good readers. Before you break out the Ben & Jerry’s for a pity party, I have some things that could come to your aid. I have put together three images that will help you get a good hang of plotting out a fiction story. I’m not an English professor or Stephen King by any means, but I have put out a couple of well-received books.
So let’s get this party started. The first picture is probably an image that you might have seen in English class in school. This is the one about the rising slope, peaking with a climax, and ending with a falling action.
This little thing sums it up pretty easily. Although your story doesn’t have to be nailed down to an exact percentage, this formula is a good place to start. Almost any book, movie, or TV episode can be reduced to a character finding a problem, needing to solve it, and either succeeding or failing in doing so. Now just apply that to your story. What does your main character want? How does the character plan on getting it? Are they going to get it in the end or fail trying? It’s your world; we’re just living in it.
The second one is this handy chart involving plots. Again, it pretty much explains itself.
Is there anything in your story that does not have to do with the problem being solved? Cut it out. It’s probably dead weight. That’s not to say some interesting details can’t be sprinkled in to flesh out your characters and the world they live in. However, a bunch of unnecessary scenes that don’t revolve around the direct plot can slow things down and leave your reader bored. I have had to learn this lesson in the past. Once, I submitted some of my work to an agent. Although she said that the initial idea for the book was interesting, the story fell apart because I added too much extra junk which slowed down the pacing. Don’t make the same mistake– keep the plot constantly flowing.
Think of your story as a big, juicy burger. Your exposition (beginning) and conclusion (end) are the buns. The body of the story is the meat, cheese, tomato, lettuce and sauce. If there is something in there that doesn’t contribute to how awesome your sandwich is, you would just pick it out. Pretty simple, right?
The last picture is one just a mental image that helps me whenever I write. It’s not specific, like the previous two images, but it’s just something that gets me in the right mindset of writing a story personally. Behold: the probably way-too-dangerous-for-playgrounds ring glider.
As a kid, you tried to swing on this bad boy. And how did you do it? By grabbing one ring to the next and slowly propelling yourself from one side to the other.
Writing fiction kind of works the same way. You hang from one plot point to the next until you reach your climax and then your ending. Event A leads to Event B. Event B leads to Event C. You are hanging by each moment until the conflict of the story is resolved.
Once you have the beginning, middle and end plotted out, all there is left to do is the dreaded B.I.C. method (Butt In Chair). Writing involves a lot of sitting and staring at a computer screen. Yes, a lot. However, if you really want to see that short story, book, or what have you in print, you will put in the hours. I am a grade-A procrastinator and will probably put anything in front of having to write a difficult scene. However, I usually tell myself, “The only way to get it done is by doing it.” In all honesty, it’s the truth. If you want to show this movie in your head to someone else, you will have to do some serious sitting in the process.
One thing I want to make absolutely clear is that boredom should never be in the equation. If you’re bored writing it, your readers are going to be bored reading it.
Yes, writing some scenes are going to be a little tedious. That doesn’t mean you should absolutely dread putting the ink to paper. If it gets to that point, then you should probably rethink the direction in which your story is headed. Again, it’s your world, so that means everything goes by your rules. You can change a gruesome horror into a romantic comedy if you feel like it. You can do an absolute one-eighty if you don’t like the flow of your words.
Writing isn’t and shouldn’t feel like rocket science. I hope what I’ve had to say helps. If you’ve liked this post or have some additional advice on plotting, follow this blog or leave a comment. Happy writing, everybody!