Part Two: On Plotting Your Story
You do not have to use a method for plotting in writing your story. If you're perfectly happy with writing off the top of your head (which is how I write fiction) and you've never struggled with finishing a long story or had issues with writer's block, then keep doing what you're doing. As the old saying goes, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” :)
But if you work better with a plan (not necessarily an outline, but a written plan) or if you have never used a written plan and have struggled with completing a long story or book or have become a victim of writer's block, this post may be of great assistance to you.
I haven't used a written plan before. I jot notes on Post-It's on occasion when an idea strikes and stick them in my spiral bound rough draft writing journal, and I occasionally write down small details there I'm afraid I'll forget, but otherwise, I write off the top of my head.
When I write outtakes (additional chapters written from other characters' POV or related side stories outside the regular story), I often print up the chapter I'm writing the outtake from so that I can be sure I'm accurate. In Pinned but Fluttering, one of my fan fiction novels, I wrote an outtake of what happened in my story during a wolf-attack on the Cullens' house that Bella, from whose POV the main story line is written, could not see. I wrote the first half of the outtake in Carlisle's POV, and the second half I've divided between Carlisle's and Edward's POV. Between the two halves, I posted a flash fiction (a piece of fiction limited to a certain word count, usually 500 words or less) that I wrote from Jacob's POV. Then once my readers know everything that happened that Bella couldn't see, I'll continue the story in her POV.
So let's talk plotting strategies.
Plotting Your Story
Whether you are writing a single chapter story (a one-shot), the first chapters of a new multiple-chapter story, or are continuing an already existing story, it's never too late to plan your plot.
And there are lots of ways to do so.
Here's a quick review of the basic plotting of a short story:
(On the left side are links to POV and character development, among other story writing topics, if you're interested.)
Here's a lesson plan on story mapping:
(The explanation is okay, but what's far more helpful is the list of links to templates at the bottom of the article. You may print any of them that you think may be helpful for you and use them as you wish. Again, I'm not requiring story mapping; I'm just giving you an all-you-can-eat buffet of plot planning strategies, and you may take whatever appeals to you and leave the rest. :D)
Here's a listing of 29 plot ideas (referred to as “templates” but not the physical kind that you can write on as in the resource listed above):
(Also note the links at the bottom of the page that take you to other articles/ideas on plotting.)
Here's a set of plot questions to ask yourself as you begin a story:
(Don't miss the other articles listed in the right margin, everything from “How to Begin a Novel” to “Generating Emotions in a Reader” to “Six Powerful Dialogue Techniques” to “Ending a Scene.”)
And here's a whole plethora of graphic organizers that you can download/print in html (any computer can read it), PDF, and Word (Word worked best for me):
(These cover entire plots to certain scenes to character mapping; the most helpful to me appeared to be the Character Map, the Concept Map, the Story Map, and the Timeline, but you may find others helpful, too.)
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