I’m a hybrid writer. I write my character profiles, settings, external and internal conflicts and a few of the major plot points, but I don’t actually plot my stories out. This is how the story comes to me. I don’t want to plot out the entire story because I lose all interest in writing the actual story.
Because I don’t plot out the story I get stuck once in a while. Either it goes off on a tangent or something unexpected happens. I have created a document called plotting tools with lots of questions I’ve picked up over the years. I usually answer these questions I start the story. When the unexpected happens and I don’t know where to go next I go back to the questions and think about what I already have written. This usually helps me get unstuck.
What secrets are the characters hiding?
What’s at stake?
It’s whatever he stands to lose should the game go south.
- What does the protagonist stand to lose through the story’s central conflict?
- What do they stand to gain?
- What do they want or need to obtain or achieve, and what stands in the way of them doing this?
- What are they risking in trying to achieve their objective?
- What will happen if your protagonist fails to achieve their goal? What are they risking? What might they lose? (If the answer is ‘nothing’ or at least ‘nothing very important’, your stakes are not high enough.)
- How personally invested is your protagonist in the outcome of the central conflict? How much does achieving their goal matter to them? (If the answer is ‘not very much’, your stakes are not high enough.)
- What are the external consequences of your protagonist’s actions (e.g. how will they affect other characters/the world at large)? What are the large-scale repercussions that might come of them failing to achieve their goal? If the answer is ‘none’, your stakes are not high enough.)
- Are you telling the story of the defining moment of your protagonist’s life? The biggest, most life-changing and important thing that has ever happened to them? (If the answer is ‘no’, your stakes are not high enough – and you may be telling the wrong story.)
Watch these videos.
REMEMBER GOAL MOTIVATION CONFLICT
Look up three act structure, plot points, themes, motivations, elements of the genre you’re writing, tropes and cliches of the genre’s you’re writing in. You don’t have to follow these but it does help when you’re learning about writing story.
A couple of my favorite books on writing include How to Write Killer Fiction by Carolyn Wheat, Write Great Fiction Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. These are the two I come back to time and again.
I also visit sites like the one written by K.M. Weiland http://helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/
http://storyfix.com/ by Larry Brooks, Nigel Watts and Elizabeth George.
Also find beta readers, join a writers group and/or a critique group. The more you read and critique other people’s work the better writer you will become. I was on Fictionpress.com years ago and many writers there are interested in receiving critiques. They don’t always like what you tell them because they already think their story is awesome. I believe most of the writers there are under twenty and write to escape, write their daydreams, write because they’ve been told they have talent. Story telling takes practice. I was told in my early twenties that you need to write a million words before you get good at writing and know how to tell a story. There is more to it than just beginnings, middle and endings.
If your well is empty then don’t write. Do read, look at art, take a walk or listen to a podcast on writing. It’s okay to not write everyday. When you’re ready, put you butt in the chair and write.
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