PlottingWritten by Jeff Heisler
Continued from page 1
Second, think about what events you want your readers to see. Chances are you won't be showing every single action taken by every single character throughout timeline. Decide what scenes are most exciting or important for main storyline. Don't worry- you can easily find ways to share these events with readers without launching into full scene. A main character could get a phone call or a note. They could hear about an event from another character- or maybe even guess that event has occurred based on their observations. Make a little mark or symbol of cards that you're sure you'd like your readers to see. Don't worry, nothing's set it stone yet. Just make a note and move on. Step 4- Now that you have all of your events it's time to get picky. Lay your cards out on a large flat surface, or put them up on a bulletin board. When I first started I bought two sheets of corkboard and put them on wall in my office. I pinned all cards on board way I liked them. When you're done you should be able to see your whole novel and enjoy following plot. Keep rearranging if you want to- go nuts. Don't stop until you like what you see. This is a concept called storyboarding, and it's used by creative people in a variety of mediums. Watch one of those how-they-made-the-movie documentaries. They always storyboard. It's a great tool. Step 5- Details. Now take your cards down one at a time. You're going to make some notes on back before you put it back up. You can make a new card if you need to. Here's what you're going to put on back: • Location: Where is scene happening? Watch for problems with logic here. A character in New York can't be in London 5 minutes later. Think of ways to have setting enhance your plot. Be creative. I once put a car chase scene in hallway of Smithsonian. Just made things more interesting. • Time: What is day and time this is happening? Also- watch for logical flaws. • Characters: List all characters who will appear in this scene. • Main POV: Every scene should be written through eyes of just one character- your point of view character. Who is POV character in this scene? • Main POV's goal: What is POV character trying to accomplish here? • Problems that stop main POV character from reaching their goal (Try to list 3-4 at minimum.): What's in way? What's stopping character from getting what they want? By way- if there's nothing in this scene that's in way this better be last chapter of book or you're in trouble. All drama is based on conflict. Make sure there's plenty of it in every scene. • Scene ending hook: In most of book things should be getting worse, or if things are looking better- make sure your reader knows that relief will be short lived. End scene with some hint of more conflict to come. Don't let reader have an excuse to put book down because they might not pick it up again. Step 6: Put project down and come back to it a few days later with a fresh view. Read- revise- and wait again. Do this until you're happy with product. Step 7: Start writing from cards one scene at a time. I like to take what I've put on cards and put them into a single document in Word. That way I can keep adding notes and rearranging without a lot of trouble. When it's time for me to write I pick any scene- not necessarily in order, review information and write scene based on information on card. You always start writing knowing what your goal is and what needs to be included. No writer's block to deal with here. That's it. Just keep writing those scenes till you're done and you've got a well plotted book.
Jeff Heisler is a freelance writer and novelist. You can visit his site at www.heislerink.com/writeaway.htm to read more of his articles on writing.
SuspenseWritten by Jeff Heisler
Continued from page 1
The second essential element is story question. What does reader want to know? Why should they read this scene? Why shouldn’t they put book down? This is crucial so listen closely. From page one to finish, reader must never read a single word without a strong question in mind. Never. I mean it. The moment you write something like first example of Helen’s evening- your readers have no reason to continue and they put book down, sometimes for good. That doesn’t mean that there has to be great mystery in each scene. It does mean every scene should be read while a question hangs in air. Do you notice how great suspense authors braid their novels? In one scene we see hero attacked. The last thing our protagonist sees is butt of a gun bearing down on him. The scene or chapter ends, and now we’re taken somewhere else. We visit perspective of another character, a character with their own set of problems. The reader is firmly hooked now. They are interested in events surrounding second character because it raises more unanswered questions. More than that, they are dying to find out what’s happened to our protagonist from previous scene. Braiding is a powerful technique for creating suspense. Use it whenever you can. Those of you writing more literary or character based works may not feel these techniques are relevant, but they are. Every good author in every genre uses suspense in some way shape or fashion. There’s no story without it.
Jeff Heisler is a freelance writer and novelist. You can see more of his writing tips at www.heislerink.com/writeaway.htm.