Plotting

Written by Jeff Heisler


Plotting

How do you plot a novel? You read your favorite book andrepparttar writer putrepparttar 129516 twists and turns in justrepparttar 129517 right places. The pace was perfect. The excitement built torepparttar 129518 end and them WHAM- What a finish! Howrepparttar 129519 heck to they do that? It's not as hard as you think- really. In fact, plotting is one ofrepparttar 129520 easier and most enjoyable tasks involved in writing your novel. John Grisham agrees. He once told a reporter he loves to plot- but hatesrepparttar 129521 writing. I can understand why. When you're plotting you seerepparttar 129522 story clearly in your own mind. You begin to ask yourself- what if this happened? What if that happened? It's like kindergarten playtime all over again. So if it's so easy how do you do it? I'll tell you, but first you have to know that there is no one single method that works for all writers. You have to get an understanding of what others do and then makerepparttar 129523 process your own. Here's how it works: Step 1- Write your book in two sentences or less. That's right- two sentences. Remember when you looked atrepparttar 129524 movie listings inrepparttar 129525 paper and they had these two sentence descriptions that told you whatrepparttar 129526 movie was about. That's what you have to write first. Why? Becauserepparttar 129527 golden rule of writing is to know what you're writing when you write it. Sure, you can get around this and throw out pages and ideas as you go, a lot of writers have. I think that's wasteful. I've heard several stories of great writers submitting their manuscripts in large trunks- thousands of pages. "The story's in there somewhere- they tellrepparttar 129528 editor." Look- no editor in today's publishing world is going to bother with that. You have to haverepparttar 129529 book done and edited to perfection BEFORE you send it in. That's why you need to write your story's plot in two to three sentences. Anything that you write or plot later must relate to those sentences or they need to be cut- period. Here's an example: Moby Dick- Ahab, a whaleboat captain bent on revenge againstrepparttar 129530 white whale that mauled him, spurs a tired crew acrossrepparttar 129531 ocean in a grand hunt. Ignoringrepparttar 129532 dangers ofrepparttar 129533 sea he becomes consumed with revenge and will do anything to get it. There it is. Hundreds of pages boiled down to two sentences. Melville should have done this exercise himself. He grew as a writer as he wrote more and more- culminating in this great literary classic, but even Moby Dick is flawed in a fundamental way. Melville includes an entire chapter that reads like an encyclopedia of whale biology. There is no story whatsoever in this chapter- just diagrams and descriptions of whales. It is often calledrepparttar 129534 least read chapter in all great literature. Perhaps if Melville had keptrepparttar 129535 heart of his story in mind he would have left that chapter out- or at least put it in an appendix. Boil down your story into 2 sentences and stay within those sentences. Do this first. You will have to do it eventually when you submit to publishers and agents- so you might as well do it now and benefit fromrepparttar 129536 sharp focus it provides. Step 2- Get out your index cards. Get a bunch of 'em, whatever size you like. Now sit and think about your story. Are there scenes and events that pop to mind? Jot them down. No detail here- just enough to remind you whatrepparttar 129537 card is about. Writerepparttar 129538 cards in any order. The LAST thing you want to do is to force yourself to think of these scenes in a linear way (see my column onrepparttar 129539 writer's mind for more detail.) Just jot down every scene you can think of. Some scenes will give you ideas for others. Just keep going. When you're tired put them down and review them later. Add more (don't take any out, even if you've decided you probably won't use them.) Keep adding cards and scenes until you just can't think of any more ideas. By now you're probably excited because you're getting a great view ofrepparttar 129540 story and you can't wait to start writing. Well- wait anyway. There's more to do. Step 3- Organize your cards. Now'srepparttar 129541 time to put them in order. Keep two things in mind- first, unless you're doing weird things withrepparttar 129542 timeline- everything should be linear. Event A should be followed by event B and so on. Don't do B,T,Z,P,A, or some darned thing unless you really, really know what you're doing. If this is your first book, I wouldn't even think about it. A-B-C, 1-2-3. Keep it nice and simple.

Suspense

Written by Jeff Heisler


Suspense

He had never killed a man before. Looking down atrepparttar lifeless body at his feet, Harold wondered if it would berepparttar 129514 last time. Want to know more? Good. Thatísrepparttar 129515 point. So how do you create this suspense? Itís easier than you think. Just keep two things in mind when you construct your story- conflict, and question. Conflict drives all fiction. Thereís no story without it. Let me show you an example of writing devoid of conflict. Helen sat comfortably in her easy chair. She had a bowl of warm popcorn in her lap and a soda onrepparttar 129516 end table. A few yards away her television flickered as she surfedrepparttar 129517 channels looking for something interesting to watch. She settled on a documentary aboutrepparttar 129518 Amazon. Sheíd always like documentaries. Asrepparttar 129519 evening passedrepparttar 129520 popcorn ran out andrepparttar 129521 soda can emptied- but she didnít mind. She was comfortable. After a few hours she stood up, stretched, and gathered her popcorn bowl and empty soda can. She set them both inrepparttar 129522 kitchen sink and slunk off to bed.

So, do you want to read 300 pages of this? I didnít think so. Now watch this.

She didnít know he was there. Whilerepparttar 129523 microwave rattled, heating a bag of popcorn,repparttar 129524 man moved furtively downrepparttar 129525 hallway. Helen waited forrepparttar 129526 popping to slow. She openedrepparttar 129527 microwave, and emptiedrepparttar 129528 warm bag of popcorn in a large plastic bowl. She grabbed a soda fromrepparttar 129529 fridge and walked torepparttar 129530 living room. She didnít suspect anything was wrong when she picked uprepparttar 129531 remote and surfedrepparttar 129532 dial for something interesting to watch. There were no suspicious rustles or creaks. No shadows moving inrepparttar 129533 distance. Just her house, empty and neat- just like always. Onrepparttar 129534 tube a documentary onrepparttar 129535 Amazon flashed into view. Helen putrepparttar 129536 remote down and settled deeper in her chair. Just another Sunday night. Another cozy, uneventful Sunday night.

From Helenís point of view- itísrepparttar 129537 same scene. Fromrepparttar 129538 readerís point of view thereís a big difference. The second scene is loaded with conflict. Notice thatrepparttar 129539 conflict doesnít have to be visible torepparttar 129540 characters, but it must always be visible torepparttar 129541 reader. Inrepparttar 129542 second example,repparttar 129543 reader knows that Helen is in danger. As they read,repparttar 129544 voice in their mind screams at Helen- ďThereís a man inrepparttar 129545 house! Look out!Ē The conflict is felt byrepparttar 129546 reader even if itís not felt byrepparttar 129547 character. Keepingrepparttar 129548 reader inrepparttar 129549 grips of this conflict creates a ďpage-turner.Ē

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