Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Plotting Your Story (Guest Post)

Hi there!

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.

Synopsis: It started with a glance. And ended with a nightmare.

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…


Guest Post: “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.


Think back to the ups and downs you’ve experienced—the drama, 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 today.
Plotting out your book is a lot like life. Each moment 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.
So, plot and characterization go hand in hand. It’s what 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.

There are many methods for drafting your plot. I prefer to 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’!  

Author Bio: Pamela Crane is a North Carolinian writer of the best-selling 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.
Olivia's Question: Which book has the best plot twist you've ever read?
Olivia-Savannah x



22 comments:

  1. With my first story, I also made a chapter-to-chapter outline because I had a really clear vision of where I wanted to go with this story, and it helped immensely. Also because I was writing this during NaNo and I didn't really have the time to sit down and try to come up with things. :o)

    With the second story, I had several scenes in my head, but other than that, I kind of did it on the fly, which was really strange. I did worry about there being too little plot, so this was really helpful. Thanks!

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    1. D: For some reason I can't visit your blog on any of the browsers or devices I have. I think it might be the site?

      I think planning can be so helpful! Organising those ideas and building on them when it comes to the plot is great.

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  2. Excellent article. Immensely helpful, thanks for sharing.

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  3. Incredibly helpful post, I often forget in writing how much an event/moment can change the character in the long run and find the whole idea really interesting :)

    Most recent post on Enchanted by YA: http://enchantedbyya.blogspot.com/2015/01/review-fire-in-woods-fire-in-woods-1-by.html

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    1. Yes, a simple plot twist moment has the capability to turn the whole book around!

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  4. Interesting article. Plot can be tricky to establish. Thanks for the insight.

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  5. Thank you for all the great comments!

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    1. Thank you for writing such a lovely guest post <3

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  6. I really can't imagine authors writing without an outline, yet I know some do. I've greatly enjoyed your series, Olivia, and the author's guidance. :)

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    1. It's been fun to do and well, it will be ending now! I need an outline at all times, but then again, different people work differently.

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  7. The Admirer's Secret sounds like a great book. I really enjoyed hearing from Pamela. I like to get a basic outline for my book done before I start writing and I outline the beginning chapters. After that I brainstorm almost daily with my co-author, so we always know where the plot is going. :) Thanks to Pamela for sharing her words of wisdom. I always love hearing from other authors about their writing process.
    ~Jess

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    1. I have read that one and I liked it a lot! I think getting the basic outline is good, and then brainstorming and adding to it as well is great. Especially when co-writing.

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  8. These posts are a great idea, very helpful! Plot twists are really fun, I think I've raised a book's rating one or even two with the addition of a really great plot twist. Mortal Heart by RL LaFevers had a few awesome ones.

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    1. I am glad you like them! I will check out Mortal Heart :)

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  9. I liked this post. It said that a plot doesn't always need to revolve around action. Couldn't agree more!
    Harry Potter plot twist on Snape is perhaps the best. I didn't see that coming XD

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    1. I haven't read that far into the Harry Potter series yet, but I am looking forward to it!

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  10. Very unique and useful article!

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  11. These posts were really interesting! I spend way too much time on plotting when I should be writing. I just love plotting so much!

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    1. Plotting can be a whole lot of fun ^.^

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