Plotting Basics: It's time for some CPR - Conceptualize, Polish, and Revise.
No matter where you are on the road of writing, unless of course you have already finished your manuscript, there's always room for CPR.
If you are in the planning/beginning stages, then plotting can be helpful as you set up the premise of your story, build your world, create characters and design the background of your manuscript.
If you are in the writing stages, plotting can aide you with the sagging middle, boring characters, dull settings and descriptions, and blocked walls.
If you are editing and revising, well good plotting tools will show you where your manuscript is weak and characters are lacking personality and settings need some spice.
So, without further ado, here are my favorite tips for plotting your novel. Need some CPR???
First Plot Puppet:
Ask questions. Don't ask questions that only demand a yes or no answer. You need details!
Is Conner a bad guy? Well, all you get with this question is, yes. Did that help you any? NO!
Ask questions such as:
Why is Conner a bad guy? What did he do that made him bad? Now, you'll get some good answers. He was a thief. He lied all the time. He tricked people. He was a bully. He kidnapped the princess. And the list goes on!
Ask questions that will open wide doors. Don't ask, why was Conner at the scene of the crime, ask what type of businesses operated on the same block as the crime scene and how could they relate to the suspect?
And now, you've got twenty new areas to explore that will add to your plot. TA-DA! A plot puppet!
Why do I call them plot puppets? Because a puppet is under the control of its master. As an author, you are the master of your manuscript and that makes the plot your puppet:)
So, back to plotting...
The businesses. What were they and how can they relate to my suspect?
There's a hardware store. And video rental. A hair salon and jewelry store right beside it. The post office is across the street and on the corner is a little cafe. the kind where breakfast is served all day and stays open all night. Then, there's a 5 and 10 store and Hallmark Stationary on the corner. Oh, and there's a quilters store with a scrapbook section in the back corner.
Okay, now that's it for now.
It's time to start asking questions. I've got so many just from this bit that I could write all night. But to par things down to the minimum for the sake of this blog post (and your patience in reading this far already.) I'll list just a few.
How was the suspect (let's call him Roger) related to the waitress at the diner?
Why does Roger visit the post office every day?
How does the quilters store and the stationary store relate to the video rental store?
Which place, or places, did the crime take place?
These questions are so open ended and I could take my story in a hundred different directions, couldn't I?
You can do the same thing. Start with a question, and build on those questions until an idea blows you sideways.
So, what questions did you come up with? Did it open up your plot?