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Plotting your story

‘Hang on a minute!’ I hear you say, ‘Haven’t you just told me how to plan a story?’ Yes, I did. So what’s the difference between planning and plotting?

It’s a matter of degree.

When you plan a story, you sketch out your idea, characters, length, location, time required and workplace requirements. Now you have what you need to climb the hill - you can start thinking about the route you’ll take.

Let’s take the classic novel. As I said previously, it is divided into three parts, with the following ‘weighting’ -

Beginning - 25%

Middle - 50%

End - 25%

So - what goes in what bit?

Any novel is basically about triumph over adversity, with the main character’s life being thrown into absolute turmoil by an event that occurs at the start of the story. Do you recognise the following people? (Answers at the foot of the page if you need them!)

The life of the police chief of a pleasant coastal holiday town is shattered when horrible things begin to happen to swimmers.

The life of a young man is turned upside down when he is swindled and thrown into a dreadful, impregnable prison fortress.

A woman is placed in terrible danger when the crew of her spaceship discover something monstrous on an abandoned planet.

No matter when these were written, the theme remains the same: Initial crisis, personal turmoil/threat, confrontation with threat, eventual victory/vanquishing of threat. Simple, isn’t it?

So why, you say, can’t I just - start writing? All I can say in return is - try it! I can virtually guarantee that, before you reach the end of the beginning, you will stall. Why? Because you didn’t plot your story!

It’s like building a house. You’ve got a pile of bricks, sand & cement, copper pipe, miles of wire, appliances - you get the picture. Okay - suppose you just start off laying bricks? It goes well for a while then damn! - I just forgot there should be a window there! You have nothing to work from!

So write it all down. How do your characters move through the story? How do they react to and overcome or deal with events that happen? How do the actions of other people affect your main character? How will your main character win out? (and they do win out, of course!)

Break your story down into sections. Treat each section as a mini-story in itself, that relates to you story as a whole. This may not be a linear thing - A may not affect B but may well affect C - but it will fit in to your overall tale.

Another benefit of working in this way to plot your story is that sections can be individually edited if a glaring error is noticed - say if you main character is suddenly in two places at once! I’ll be writing some more articles on the subject that you will be able to get free from this site so bookmark it now! So - what goes where?

We’ll have a look at that now. Click here to find out!


 - Chief Martin Brody, Jaws

 - Edmund Dante, The Count Of Monte Cristo

 - Ellen Ripley, Alien.

Writing is seldom easy so any help is a big relief! Andre Rains Waggener's new system could just be the answer to your prayers - just click here to get started!