1. The Weary Blues

    The Weary Blues New Member

    Mar 5, 2017
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    Process for Developing Plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by The Weary Blues, Mar 7, 2017.

    Sorry if this is a vague question :meh:, but I was wondering how most writers go about developing and planning their plot, if they plan their plot at all. I have been having a hard time pulling small details and ideas into a cohesive story. It seems that once I have a plot point set in stone, another part of the story contradicts it. Essentially, when I try to write separate chunks of the story, they just become obsolete as I continue another part. It doesn't help that I am far from an experienced writer. The more the plot expands, the more overwhelmed I am.

    Any ideas for more efficient and consistent plot development? o_O
  2. Miller0700

    Miller0700 Contributor Contributor

    Jan 27, 2016
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    Philadelphia, PA
    I pretty much outline it all. I use bullet points to detail what each chapter will be about so I don't write blindly.
  3. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

    Nov 19, 2016
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    Chicago, IL.
    There are five points you should have figured out before plotting. They are as followed.

    Lead: Your MC. Try to use nouns and verbs when you describe your MC and a single-well-picked adjective.
    Objective: What is his or her goal? It should be a physical goal that serves to satisfy a spiritual goal.
    Conflict: What stands in his or her way?
    Knockout: What would victory look like? What would defeat look like?
    Situation: With as few words as possible, what is your character's life like before the start of the story? A little bit of Background info works here.

    A note on irony: Either the goal or the conflict (or both) should be Ironic in terms of your MC. An example of this would be "A serial killer who tries to save someone's life."

    A note on the Spiritual goal: While you need to know what the spiritual goal is, you don't need to state in the logline. Spiritual goals are mostly for subtext and theme purposes, not so much for plotting.

    A Note on Groups: A group counts as one character (in terms of plot) if they all share the same physical goal. What separates this cast of characters in terms of character development is that they each have a different spiritual goal; however, if you have a few main characters each with a different physical and spiritual goal then you must do the five points for each character.


    I wish you the best of luck,

    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
  4. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

    Jan 11, 2015
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    Sounds like you just have an organization problem! That's easy, just find a way to track the important parts of your story

    In the background of my book, behind my master story document, there is an inconceivable web of documents, jpegs, snippets, quotes, everything, historical reference, character sheets, and character cheat sheets. I have a whole folder filled with fifty or so pictures I look at just to put me in the right MOOD to work on my book. Everything and anything about my story's style, tone, setting, everything, is annotated and ready to go.

    You should do what works for you, but find a way to track all your plot points and facts for easy reference.

    Track those details in a 'setting' document, read them over every day you write so you always know them.

    Write a plot outline, and plan out all the major beats of your story in advance. Put the beats at the top of each chapter, then write the changes and conclusion on the top of the NEXT chapter so you can track it all.

    These things work for me, but you can develop your own methods. Keep writing, and good luck!
    Spencer1990 likes this.
  5. The Weary Blues

    The Weary Blues New Member

    Mar 5, 2017
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    Thank you so much!!! It's so much easier having a structure for each character, thank you!! It makes planning the plot a lot more efficient when you understand each characters' motivation and how it shapes their actions. By making the characters consistent, the plot follows suit. (Again, thank you!!:D)
  6. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

    Dec 8, 2016
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    South-East, UK
    I write out a plan. Plot the main events along a line, then fill in the gaps with the stuff that happens inbetween. Then, I write a chapter list, giving each chapter a title that sums up the main idea of what has to happen in that chapter.
  7. ChaseTheSun

    ChaseTheSun Senior Member

    Jan 7, 2017
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    Listen to every single piece of advice you can get on the topic (WF, youtube, google). Then go out and make up your own way. It's different for everyone. The worst trap you can fall into is think "but I'm supposed to be doing it xyz way...". I can't even begin to explain my plot development process because it's a mish-mash of so many different elements advice, reinvented my own way that it would just be way too involved and convoluted an answer to this thread.

    Some basic tips from my process. I'm a visual processor, so these may or may not be helpful for you:

    Use post-it notes/cue cards (mine are always colour coded), write down key words and events (including dates if relevant) and spread them out across a table-top or the floor in chronological order. This helps identify plot holes, inconsistencies, etc.

    Colour code everything. Blue for character, yellow for event/catalyst, pink for setting, orange for coinciding historical context, etc. This helps identify whether you have too much or not enough of something.

    Don't limit yourself to thinking that there must be a certain type of conflict. Plot driving conflicts come from everywhere; external, internal, man v nature, man v fate, man v religion, man v self, man v man, etc. Don't get caught up trying to manufacture the conflict, the stakes, the resolution etc from the start of the process. Leave that for later, after you've got the main backbone laid out on the floor or a table. Once you've got that spinal cord of events and characters and dates, you can then add notes and further colour codes to identify which of those post-its show conflict, which show stakes, which show resolutions, etc etc.

    Identify what your learning process is. If you are visual and/or kinaesthetic, then processes like mine could work well for you. If you aren't, and you're more word/method oriented, you might benefit from dot points and outlines. If you are audio oriented, try talking with someone about your plot and talking it through, point by point, and take notes as you/your friend identify what needs to come next, what doesn't make sense, etc.

    You could try mind-mapping. I know some people swear by this; it's not my preferred mode of planning (I love the idea but it's never really materialised for me). It's a very popular approach with many academics and creatives alike. Use a massive sheet of paper and don't be afraid of lots of lines, dramatic connections and going with flights of fancy. It's a very organic process that I find very appealing and have sometimes used on a smaller scale, to great effect.

    EDIT to add: Oh and check out Freytag's Pyramid. Love it.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
    Simpson17866, jannert and Spencer1990 like this.
  8. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    I especially like the idea about 'what would victory look like/what would defeat look like?'

    I think if you can nail that in your head, the rest of your story will catch up. This isn't visualising 'the end,' by the way. It's thinking about the consequences of actions, thoughts, feelings, wishes, luck, energy ...the lot. It's not will they win or lose, but WHAT will they win or lose? It's rare to gain everything or lose everything. There is usually something lost even with victory, and something that's worth keeping, even in defeat. Play with these ideas, and the story will come.

    I think if you just concentrate on plot construction (which in most writer circles means action/reaction) you risk telling a superficial and forgettable story. Let the plot develop from your characters and what you want to happen to them.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2017
    Simpson17866 and PirateQueen27 like this.
  9. Toomanypens

    Toomanypens Member

    Dec 22, 2015
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    I agree with what has already been said.
    However for me, I run aground about a third through the book.
    I believe this is because at some point you have to define your story.

    As writers we can't afford to be vague, we can be purposefully tricky about how we portray something, but we can't just opt out of making decisions.
    A great example of this is in how it is better to choose ONE very STRIKING point, and define it unambiguously, than to create several mediocre points that all entangle into each other indecipherably.

    As a result, at some point in your story, you will have to limit how expansive its reach is, by making a decision to define it a particular way.
    The reason this is so difficult is because none of us really know how we want the story to be defined, we want to be surprised and then be proud of our work.
    However, it is important to not linger and hope your end result of a book will validate you as a writer, you must instead choose a direction and LEAD it there.

    For this, I propose defining WHY your story exists.
    And when troubleshooting always refer to that to judge if you should do it or not.
    The reason it exists should not be to satisfy your ego or validate your ability.
    The reason should extend beyond you, yet also, not go so far as to become "saviour of the world" type stuff.

    Simultaneously, there needs to be a reason why YOU enjoy writing it.
    Maybe it helps YOU learn something?
    Well, sometimes when you get stuck, write in ways that will teach you the most.

    For me...
    I am thinking, I need to just find a new way to fall in love with my character, so that the audience can feel the same.
    Sometimes you can't keep writing because it is time for the story to change tone. You won't have to decide immediately what the tonal shift is, but it will evolve as you write and you need to be prepared to support it and get behind it.

    People in real life change, and they require support, sometimes characters change and you need to support them and pick their side and go with thhem on their journey rather than hold it up.
    jannert and Simpson17866 like this.

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