As writers, we are continually creating and coming up with new ideas and concepts. It's a nonstop flurry of ideas and plot devices that can sometimes be overwhelming. So how do we get our book ideas down on paper without feeling exhausted or mixed up?
When I began writing my novel, it was a far cry from anything else I had ever done. Sure, I had dabbled in the short story genre but poetry was my true home. It was the writing form I was most acquainted with and comfortable in.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” ―Octavia E. Butler
Novels are more complicated for driving narratives. Not to say that poetry can't tell a story or evoke emotion - that's the whole point. But I think you know what I mean when I say that novels are more complex in description, tone, and length than poetry is.
When I was building my poetry book, it was based more on emotion and a general story flow. I could mix and match each individual pieces without worrying about messing up a story line. So when it came to a full fledged novel, I was out of my element.
I had to learn how to plot my book from scratch. It was a humbling experience since poetry had always come easily to me. However, with a little time, determination, and a lot of googling, I found a direction that worked for me.
While everyone has their own creative process, even the best of the best can sometimes question where they are going. Sometimes the ideas are easy and can come one after the other. Sometimes though, the ideas are few and far between.
When this happens, it can be hard not to lose motivation or focus. After all, writers are meant to write so when we struggle with the narrative, it can be a blow to our self esteem, time, and even our wallet. Hopefully these tips will help you whether you're a seasoned pro or beginner; whether your ideas are a flowing fountain or a trickling river!
Oh, and don't worry: you'll find your flow and go with it. If you've ever heard of or participated in NaNoWriMo, you know about pantsers, plotters, and plantsers. If not here's a brief summary:
Pantsers: Hang onto your butts, peeps, I don't know where we're going but it's gonna be a heck of a ride!
Plotters: I know exactly where I am going, how we are getting there, and what it looks, tastes, and smells like.
Plantsers: I know pretty much where I'm headed but we're gonna make up the details as we go.
“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” —W. Somerset Maugham
Anyway, let's dive in to some ways I found helpful when I was learning how to plot my book and get myself together!
Grab your favorite notebook and begin writing down your ideas. They don't have to be perfect or even in order. Just getting the basics down will help you feel a little more focused.
Once you have your ideas down, write out the overall theme of the story you're going for. Is it mystery? Suspense? Action and adventure? Pick your genre and mood.
Have a strong main character. Describe the way they look, how they would react to situations, and whether they are a good, bad, or an anti-hero character. They will be carrying your story so make sure they stand out and feel real to readers.
Analyze your beginning and ending. Even if you don't know 100% how you want it to end, having a rough idea of how it starts and where it's going will help you start pinpointing all those ideas that you had earlier!
Take a lesson from your favorite book. It may be cliché but reading books helps you develop your skills in the long run. You can see what is already out there, what works and what doesn't, and develop your own style of doing things.
Write down your plot twists and developments. Each great book centers around a strong plot but the real magic is how you drive the narrative. Once you have your beginning and ending you can start filling in the milestones to bring them together.
Fill in your developments with motivation for your character. Why is your MC doing what they are doing? How do supporting char