Plotting Your Story (Guest Post)
Today is the last day of the series of guest posts about writing on the blog. I hope that they have helped you when it comes to certain aspects of writing your own novel. But as for right now, we have one more post! Pamela Crane, author of The Admirer’s Secret has some wisdom for you about your plot.
Small-town girl Haley Montgomery meets two men who will change her life forever—the handsome Marc Vincetti, whom she falls head over heels for, and big-time Hollywood producer Allen Michaels, who has the power to turn her screenplay into a movie and hand her a ticket to a better future.
It seems as though life couldn’t get any better—until things take a decidedly dark turn when Haley spots Marc with his former high school sweetheart and Allen develops a consuming obsession with her… a fixation fueled by his disturbing past.
As Haley faces a choice between love and fame, Marc becomes the target of a homicidal stalker and Haley’s life is thrown into a tailspin. Suddenly everything she thought she knew about Marc and Allen is completely wrong—and Haley’s life will never be the same again…
“Plot” isn’t a dirty word. Many writers think so because
they’re afraid of their book having not enough plot, too much plot, or too
complex of a plot. Where to begin? Where to end? A book revolves around pacing,
so it can be hard to figure out the secret to crafting a solid plot. But I’ve
always thought of a plot like this: Life
is a complex plot. Let me explain where I’m going with this.
the relationships, the passion, the heartbreak… Each event leads to something life-changing
to you personally. They may be small events or big ones, but they all leave a
footprint on your life. Somehow, all of those details influence who you are
builds into another, forming a larger, more complex picture. But plot isn’t all
about action, action, action. The key to a satisfying plot that many writers
forget is that it should change the characters in some way.
books thrive on. Human nature is full of unpredictability, which is what makes
a story entertaining and emotional. We all have secrets and dark sides. Don’t
believe me? My own life is a perfect example of this—such as when I was
attacked by a relative stranger who professed his love for me. Only after a
grueling, life-threatening ordeal did I discover he was mentally ill, and that’s
where the premise (and my writing therapy) for my thriller The Admirer’s Secret came from. As they say, truth is stranger than
fiction, and it all boiled down to one man’s poor choices.
How do you create a character-changing plot? First, a plot
needs to contain a few key ingredients: an opening crisis, a rising conflict that
tests the protagonist, and a major event or choice that the protagonist must
overcome at the end. The third part is where the evidence of the character’s evolution
at last reveals itself to the reader. This general structure applies to most
genres, whether suspense, romance, or sci-fi. It’s the journey that will differ
based on what kind of tale you’re telling.
write a chapter outline so that I can control the pacing. I write out what each
chapter entails and what big event will unfold. This keeps things organized. As
a mother of three young kids, my sanity depends on organization. My outline is
also fluid so that I can keep adding and changing it as I go along. My opening
crisis may take place in the first chapter, but every chapter can’t be a high.
So, my next chapter may involve how the protagonist will respond to the opening
crisis. With fluctuating highs and lows in each chapter, my goal is to craft a
story around big and small events, and how my character reacts, fails,
struggles, and eventually grows. Of course, a character should never respond
perfectly the first time around, since you want the protagonist to evolve
throughout the tale.
If you’re an author looking for ways to develop a memorable
(in a good way) plot, just keep these questions in mind as you write: How will
each event impact my protagonist by the end of the book? How will my
protagonist struggle throughout? And how will he or she overcome his or her
primary weakness by the end?
By continuously joining together your plot and
characterization, you’ll weave a story that will hook your readers and connect
with them emotionally. Just remember—stories are life. They aren’t just events
that happen, but they shape the players. So, players, keep playin’!
psychological thriller The Admirer’s
Secret, A Fatal Affair, and her upcoming novel, A Secondhand Life. Along with being a wife and mom of three rug
rats, she is a wannabe psychologist,
though most people just think she needs to see one. She’s a member of the ITW, ACFW,
and EFA, and has been involved in the ECPA, Christy Awards, and Romance Writers
of America. Along with delving into people’s minds—or being the subject of
their research—she enjoys being a literary reviewer and riding her proud
Arabian horse, when he lets her. She has a passion for adventure, and her hopes
are to keep earning enough from her writing to travel the world in search of more
good story material. Visit her at http://www.pamelacrane.com or follow her on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/pamela.crane.52 . You can pick up a copy of
her books on Amazon.com, or most online retailers.