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Alright, I know this topic is a little controversial. Some writers think if you plot our your book you aren’t allowing it room to grow. Others think you’ll be more productive if you plot down everything single chapter of your book. I am here to tell you something a little bit in between. Heres how you plot your book before you write a story.
You should plot your book before you start to write a story, but not too much.
What do I mean by that? I mean don’t go plotting out each chapter. That really doesn’t allow much room for growth. Now it is worth noting this is about fictional pieces. Non-fiction is a completely different animal. When it comes to fiction I believe the best stories are the ones that write themselves. I know we are all talented enough to have this ability. However, if we start out with a detailed plan, we aren’t even giving ourselves a chance.
Do not over plot.
Alright, I know. I am starting to lose a few of you. Let me explain. When you are beginning to write your book sit down and think about how you would like it to go. How would you begin in? This one should be easy since you’re literally at the beginning at this point. Then consider all the twist and turns the plot could take. What do you want the main turning point to be? Think about that climax for a while. Ideally, what are you aiming for? Now consider the ending. This one will more than likely change, but get a general idea.
Now stay focused.
But Magen I am not sure how the story will go. Why do I need a plan?
Well, I am glad you asked. If you start your book without this very general idea then you could end up with a piece that is way too busy. What do I mean by busy? I mean very off topic. You don’t a book that is so bloated with irrelevant character back stories and character development that the reader loses interest before they even get to the good stuff. Having a beginning, middle, and end in mind will make it easier to stay on topic with your story.
Now I said the end will likely change. I mean this is very likely. I have never written a story at any time in my life where it ended how I planned. My stories always tend to write themselves. That is probably why I always need a plan. Without one there is no telling where they would end up. With that being said I still need something to aim for. I aim for that planned ending and then I let it develop as I go. I find this is very important.
Don’t stay so focused you forget to have fun.
This might sound counterproductive, but it is important. We as writers write because it is fun. Don’t forget to have fun with your story. Sometimes we get so focused on what we want to happen that we forget our story is a living breathing thing. The characters need to interact with each other in a way that seems natural. Sometimes doing this will take your story in a different direction. If this happens just rethink your plan. Plotting is supposed to make your life easier, not harder.
So what is the takeaway?
Go into your writing with a plan, but always be rethinking that plan. I also plan my story out by word count. Now I don’t advise everyone do this, but it is very important to me that I hit those novel numbers. This might be something you want to consider too if that’s important to you.
How did you write a story before without plotting? I am always curious about what other writers have to say.
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