Writer's Advice

Writer’s Advice

One of the most difficult parts of writing a story is the plot - it can weigh on you for hours until you finally work it out, or writer's block comes calling and you're forced to leave it. It's often tempting to just write using the few ideas you have and disregard a formed storyline altogether, but although professional writers sometimes do this, it's a bit harder for us novices, and often results in half-decent material. So, how can you form a simple plot so you can begin writing in a short space of time?

Step One:
Lay out your starting concept ideas for the book. You'll need to elaborate these before you start forming a storyline so you can add characters who are involved with the concepts, etc. (this is particularly important when creating fantasy worlds).

Step Two: Write down all of your existing plot points and elaborate them. A brainstorming session is always good - you'll find ideas come to you if you stick at it and explore your inspiration. However, if you haven’t got any plot ideas and only have the concepts, it may be best to complete step three before coming back to this.

Step Three: Get your characters sorted. The more characters you have, the more possibilities for plot points, particularly if your book is set in just a few places (i.e. with a Harry Potter fan fiction the locations may primarily be Hogwarts and Hogsmeade). Start with the main character and go from there to weave more people into different parts of the story. Of course, don’t overdo it, just get a main set of characters fleshed out with backstories and personalities.

Step Four: Complete a rough synopsis of the book. Using your already listed concepts, plot points and characters to construct a piece detailing all major/important moments in your book and giving a rough idea of the storyline. Make sure you know how the story will end as well - it’s a must when anyone is writing and gives you an idea of what to aim for.

Step Five: Create a chapter plan. This isn’t a must, but I’ve found it really helps me and makes sure you know exactly what you’re doing when writing. Looking at the synopsis, work your way through the plot working out roughly what will happen in each chapter - not absolute detail, just enough to make sure you know what the plot entails chapter by chapter.

Those five steps should lead you up to a point where you have a plot figured out, including characters and concepts, and, as you write, you’ll obviously come up with more ideas and details to include. So, best of luck with your plots and projects!

Lilia Le Fay