Writing a Book part 3 – Plotting

Are you a planner or a ‘pantser’? As I’ve previously said there’s no right or wrong way to write a book, but it’s probably more usual to plan your book rather than just start writing. However, there are writers who simply sit and go. Douglas Adams was a famous ‘pantser’.

Personally, I’m a big planner so that’s what I’m going to talk about now in part 3 of ‘Writing a Book’.

Start big

So you have your idea, you’ve done your research and met all your characters. The next step I’d suggest is to sketch out your plot in broad strokes. Get your beginning, middle and end down but don’t be strict. Include scene ideas, themes, bits of dialogue – whatever you have rolling around in your head.

Let your characters lead the way

I believe your characters will ultimately drive your plot. So you could try writing your plot briefly from each of your main characters’ point of view. Your other characters will have to get involved of course, and things will happen that they won’t be privy to so you’ll probably need to note that down to include in another characters’ arc. In practical terms you could use post its or paper pinned to a board (on or offline).

Re-writing starts here

Writing means re-writing and that includes your plot. You don’t have to get it right first time. In fact, to get it right you’ll probably have to do more re-writing on it than your actual book. The better shape you do get it in, the more straightforward it should be when it actually comes to your writing. Not easier, but you’ll have room to work on the characters, the flow, and the words themselves, without worrying about how the whole thing hangs together.

Writing a series? Even more reason to get planning!

If you want to write more than one book, be it a sequel, trilogy or even series, it’s even more important to get your overall plan together before you start. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but including the main plot points means you shouldn’t reach book four and realise you needed to mention something vital back in book two!

The end is nigh

Your plot can change as you write, as your characters take control or an inspiring twist suddenly comes to light. But it’s hard to know where you’re going without a destination in mind. So I’d suggest getting the idea of your ending in place before you start writing. Like anything in your plot it can of course change, but it will help you find your way!

Related reads

Writing a Book part 1 – Research
Writing a Book part 2 – Characters
How to Write*

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