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.
So, you want to become a writer? You don’t know how to plot them? – Here is Freytag’s pyramid. The ultimate pyramid that you would help you to plot better in order to write better. You can Wikipedia “Gustav Freytag” to know more about him.
Exposition: The start of the story where you just introduce the main characters, what they do, where the world setting is, etc. basically introducing the reader into the story line.
Inciting Incident: The first conflict that acts as a hook to take off the story from the initial introduction towards a promising change
Rising action: The game changer, building the excitement of the story totally that surprises the reader with interesting scenes, conflicts, changes, etc..
Climax: The intense part of the story. The top notch that needs more information to decipher.
Falling action: Events post climax, where things make better sense with the tensions created getting resolved one by one
Resolution: The main conflict of the story gets resolved
Dénouement: The last part of the story where all the remaining questions, the mysteries, are solved by the character or just narrated by the author as an epilogue.
To know how this can be used. Pick any book, and read it once – note down the exposition, rising action, falling action, climax, and Denouement. Repeat this with books that fall under the genre that you’re writing. Read the book for the second time to get the tactics of how the rising action was built, how the hints and various major details were peppered as minor details that makes much sense at a later part of the story.
Repeat this when writing a novel to ensure that your novel has no loopholes or pitfalls! Tighten your manuscript with good rising action and falling actions.