Are you a plotter or a ‘pantser’? There’s no right or wrong way to write a book, but it’s probably more usual to plot out your book before you start writing. But there are writers who simply sit and go – flying by the seat of their pants hence ‘pantsers’. Douglas Adams for example was a famous ‘pantser’, and he was fairly successful!
Personally, I’m a big plotter so that’s what I’m going to talk about now in part 3 of ‘Tips For Writing A Book’.
Start with the big picture
So you’ve done your research and met all your characters. For the next step, I’d suggest sketching out your plot in broad strokes. Don’t worry about detail – just get the beginning, middle, and end down. That doesn’t mean you can’t include more specific information if you want. If you’ve had scenes playing over and over in your head, try them out. Play around with themes, chuck out bits of dialogue – whatever you have rolling around in your head to help you develop the plot of the book the way you see it.
Let your characters lead the way
Your characters are key to your plot, so don’t forget about them as you start planning. Each of your main characters will have their own arc, their own plot essentially, so you could try writing what happens briefly from each point of view.
Re-writing starts here
Good writing is re-writing – and that includes your plot. You don’t have to get it right the 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 get it in, the more straightforward it should be when it actually comes to your writing. Not easier, I hasten to add! But you’ll have more creative room to work on the characters, the flow, and the words themselves, without worrying about how the whole thing hangs together. And don’t be afraid to come back and revisit your plot as you write.
Writing a series? Even more reason to try plotting
If you’re planning to write more than one book to tell your story, then it can be even more important to get your overall plan together before you start. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it’s worth including the main plot points. There’s nothing worse than reaching book four and realising you needed to mention something vital back in book two. Trying to retrospectively fit things in won’t be appreciated by your readers either – and trust me, they’ll know.
The end is the beginning
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. That’s an idea not a solid immovable object. A destination to help you find your way!
Take your time
It can be very tempting to dive into the story you’ve spent so long thinking about. But I suggest taking your time on the plot. Once you’ve got the broad strokes, once you’ve satiated some of your writing appetite with a few scenes, it’s time to get into the details. And this is where you need to think. Not just write, but think. Think about what you want your characters to do, what you want your story to say, what feelings you want your reader to have – and what you want them to think.