Do you sit down every day to write and find yourself doing something, anything, other than writing? Do you have trouble meeting your word goals, even though you spend 13 hours a day in front of the computer? Do you have an RSS feed reader with no unread posts, but fall short of your word goals?
Of course you don’t do any of these things, but if you happen to know someone who does, a casual acquaintance or wanna-be writer friend, tell them they need to outline their plot before they start.
“But the creativity, the spontaneity, the whatever/blahblahblah…!” I hear you say. Never fear — outlining a plot won’t kill your creativity. The outline can be the barest sketch of a structure, a jotting down of the major challenges in your book.
Caro Clarke wrote a great article describing the two methods, “To plot or not to plot.” She explains the core structure of the story with four bullets points:
- Opening challenge: What forces my protagonist to act?
- Chain of challenges: Ever-increasing tension as the protagonist wends his or her way through the book
- Resolution: As you may have guessed, this one resolves what the opening challenge began. The bad guy is killed/the killer is named/true feelings are revealed!
- Close-down (or “envoi”): The little bit at the end where the novel closes, leaving readers sitting for a minute with that delightful satisfied feeling, a little grin on their face as they meditate on the story they just experienced.