Plotting a Novel: Where a New Contributor Contributes

Hello! I’m Katie! This is the first time I’ve posted on the Escapism Project and I’m really excited. I want to blog about plotting out a novel. Writing a novel is hard work and plotting it out can make it a whole lot easier. Can you write a novel without plotting it out? Sure. I don’t see why not. In fact, I find the situation to be completely logical. My first novel (well, I suppose it would be called a novella based on page count) I wrote I didn’t plan a single thing out. When I wanted to write, I wrote. It was as simple as that. I had no idea how the book was going to end until I wrote the last chapter. It was all good fun, but some of the chapters weren’t stellar.

That’s where plotting a novel comes it. If you have a vague idea of what’s going to happen in chapter four, you can write chapter three accordingly. But how exactly do you come up with a plot? I tend to start with the main character. If you know who’s going to star in your novel, plotting that novel out becomes loads easier. Write a paragraph about your character. Keep it simple. Just jot down what he/she does, what he/she wants, what he/she has (that’s out of the ordinary), and what he/she fears. You can also write a bit about that character’s friends and past if you want to.

Got that done? Good, let’s move on to your beginning. You want to start your novel off with something that grabs the reader’s attention. I would recommend starting off with one character (generally your main character) interacting with another character. You should make this situation exciting or even dangerous. Maybe your character did something that got them in trouble or perhaps their beloved dog just died. Your main character could have just woken up in an airplane and have no idea how they got there. This is all up to you.

After your beginning, you should plan your ending. You don’t need to plan out a whole chapter. You just need a basic idea of where your story is going. Think back to you character. What is it that he/she wanted? Did they attain this want? What about his/her fear? Did they overcome that fear? Did they even survive? Did all of your main character’s friends survive? Did the antagonist/villain survive? Is the ending of your book going to be emotionally satisfying or leaving the readers with a hunger for more? Lastly, can you see yourself writing 70-300 pages and being satisfied with this ending? Because if you won’t be satisfied, there’s no point in writing the novel.

The last thing you need to do is get a grasp of the middle of your novel. How are your characters going to get from the beginning to the end? You should also plan out scenes in the middle. Plan out scenes you will look forward to writing. If you don’t look forward to writing your novel you’re going to stop writing it. That’s why you have to plan out these scenes and plan a lot of them. You might not use all of these scenes, so it’s always a good idea to have back-up. The middle of your novel is where everything happens. Your characters will fight monsters, fall in love, face their enemies, find allies in unexpected people, and so on.

There is so much in a novel and you can’t possibly plot it all out. Besides, if you did that you would feel like you’ve already written your novel. Then you won’t want to do the actual writing because it feels like you’re writing it again. Your novel should have one big scene for every chapter. If the big scene for your chapter is that your character fights a mummy in Egypt, then that’s all you need to write. It doesn’t matter that your character lives in Australia, you figure out how your character gets from here to there when you start writing. That’s what makes writing fun: the excitement of creating something and telling it what to do. You don’t want to take the fun out of writing by over-plotting, do you? Let your plot take your characters from beginning to end. You’re job as the author is just to enjoy the ride.


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