Writing a plot for your story is like planning a road trip.
You start at point A and you map out how to get to point B.
A plot is not the story. It is the highway that must be traveled to get to the end. The story is how the character goes down that highway to get to the destination.
When writing your plot you must first decide what the ending is going to be. Then you work backwards, charting each point to reach the end. Every step should build to the final climax but have conflict that must be worked through to move the story along.
To make your plot more interesting than “got in car, drove to store, got bread,” you build in points of conflict that must be overcome. In a novel, there is usually one major plot line of conflict and a series of subplots.
The main conflicts basically fall into four types.
- Man versus man: Someone is determined to kill the driver once he gets in the car.
- Man versus nature: Earthquake, avalanche, flood that must be overcome.
- Man versus self: Man is afraid of driving after being in a previous accident.
- Man versus man’s work: Man doesn’t take care of car and it breaks down or runs out of gas.
Before you start writing, chart the points along a timeline if the action will take place in a linear story. The points must be detailed enough in your mind that you don’t write yourself into a dead end. So each subplot must have a conflict idea and way it is overcome.
Each subplot should add to the story, adding just enough action and conflict to keep the reader involved and moving along but still working towards that final destination.
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