My Advice To Writers - Working Out Your Story
I posted this in reply to a thread a day ago or something, and I thought I'd blog it, because hopefully some of you will find it useful/interesting. This method works for me, but other people will have their own ways of doing things, and I learn things all the time from listening to other writers.
Here is my advice:
1. So you have an idea, write it down.
2. Keep thinking about it for a few weeks, months if need be. Write down every detail that comes into your head, characters, setting, bits of plots/subplots, phrases. Don't worry about being chronological or about making any sense, just get the ideas down, even if you think they're rubbish.
3. When you've completely exhausted your stock of ideas, start thinking about ways to thread your ideas together. Have as many goes as you need, try and think of different ways to weave your plot and sub plot ideas together. Of course, you can add more ideas in at this stage if you think of them.
4. Once you've got a good plot line worked out (and don't rush that part) you can start working out your chapter plan. Decide on the length of your chapters (I aim for an average length of around 2600 words, but a lot more or a reasonable amount less is quite acceptable). This will require a bit of experience of your own writing, but now you need to work out where to make your chapter breaks, and then each chapter becomes a sort of mini-story, so you need to try and plan for there to be an beginning, middle and end (but to be honest, if you've written a bit before then that will probably come naturally to you as you write).
5. Start writing the actually prose of the story!
Some general tips:
- Try and spread your explanation of characters and settings throughout the novel
- Refer at all times to your plan, because then you will know exactly what's happening in the plot, but won't necessarily make it too obvious for the reader early on, adding suspense
- Finally, always be willing to make changes as you write. If you think of a major change to the plot that you think will improve your novel, change it, don't be afraid of going back on what you'd originally planned
- One thing I learnt from a published author as regards to making sure your novel is long enough is this: find a novel you like, and then reread it, keeping notes on what happens in each chapter. These only need to be very brief, but it'll really help to show you how a novel is put together and how the story progresses, because pace and structure some of the hardest things to achieve.
Hope you found something useful in that. Please comment, tell me if you have any methods that you find work well.
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