Most of us think plot and story line is the same thing. Or, we just elaborate the same thing in different ways. If they are one and the same, why two different terms though? Yes! They are different.
Plot – Main Events of the novel arranged in a manner such that it has twists and turns, with tinge of drama or emotions or thrill.
Story line – Chronological order of what the novel is all about.
To put them simply, plot is watching the movie and story line is your friend narrating the 3 hour movie in 3 minutes revealing all the twists well in advance. Thank me later 😉
Baby steps of plotting
Define your protagonist, and add meat as of his reactions to every frigging thing that he or she would cross in the novel. Note all the directions possible with respect to the travel.
Take your character through twists, turns, and new developments to reach the final stage of the novel
When plotting – tighten the scenes adding more details, the character traits, engage more and add more thrill because only you know what happens next, not the reader. Don’t let them guess! – What’s the fun? 😉
How do we plot?
Have a clear motivation of what you want to convey in this novel. Structure it out. Add more sub-plots which adds more meat to the story.
X and Y get married in the end – Plot
X went through a bad relationship before
Y was skeptical to propose for long
X waits for Y to propose
When creating sub-plots, it is almost like diving chapters and hence, ensure to do the following.
Readers should feel the urge to flip the page – when do they feel it? When there is something out there to figure out.
Play a guessing game with your reader – give them food to think
Add suspense elements and add a mild action that would be seldom noticed, but makes sense in the end
Meaty reactions by characters
Don’t get lost in the middle – don’t add extra meat to add pages – write what’s required
There are numerous worksheets available online for plotting and there are pretty good number of online courses, resources, that would help one to plot better! If you find it difficult to plot, try books on plot prompts for the same.
More often, we start our novels from a small spark and keep it growing. Sometimes, it gets clumsy and the end product would be something totally different from what we expected. It is not wrong, but maybe, if you try properly outlining the novel, it would be of great help to not just finish the novel but finish on time because you know what you’re writing. I did this clumsy mistake of starting at a point and not knowing the travel of the story with my first novel, but with my second WIP, I have improved a lot on this.
So, let’s outline – the silver line of the cloud! Let’s do it.
One best way to outline is using the snowflake method. I have covered it in methods of writing! Check out!
Or use the Freytag’s Pyramid – jot down the one-liners that would cover under each part of it.
Even if you’re a panster – if you work on outlining, it would help you overcome the writer’s block. Trust me! It works. Anyhow, the outlines are just as flexible as ever, to alter according to the flow.
Things to ponder and write down first:
Write down the important characters
Pen the important scenes that you want to cover – there are times that we have a scene in mind than the actual story plots. So put them down.
Chapters – divide them into chapters, and divide the meat accordingly. Figure out ‘what’ you’ll cover ‘where’ this will avoid any spill at all
Also, tunnel them. Divide your sheets and pen down the different tunnels or paths you have in mind and let the story choose the road to travel to complete the maze
Doing this will help you find loopholes, blunder mistakes, research requirements, and there are thin chances to discover a new plot or a sequel plot.
A person who outlines their novel will be curious and interested, this would make them write faster and publish sooner than usual or planned. You can use mind mapping or sticky note mapping.
Software like Scrivener helps a lot in outlining, you can also do the same in an excel sheet or a word document at ease.
I have outlined my next novel and it is coming up really well! And am so thrilled about it as it falls under dual timeline and is a different take and leaps beyond my capacity.
Quickly open an excel sheet and start outlining! See ya!