All blogs are property of authors and copying is not permitted.



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Plotting and Structure of Novels with author Brenda Taylor today on #RB4U

Plotting and Structure of Novels

Plotting novels is a chore for me, because I am a panster by nature. Instead of sitting for a great length of time thinking, plotting, and structuring a story, I want to write and let the storyline fall where it may. I’ve learned, however, my panster method is not the best way. It leaves too much to chance and makes the story seem messy. Readers are disappointed when a novel doesn’t follow certain patterns of organization. Plotting takes discipline. I suppose in my heart of hearts, I’m an undisciplined writer who must make a special effort to control the impulse to let the chips fall where they may.

Following are two simple methods for plotting and structuring a novel. They are only outlines. Elements may be added as needed, but outlines help begin the thought process for planning and organizing a story.

The first is very simple and I call it, the Classic Plot Structure. When all the elements and parts are added to the outline, a storyline takes form.

The Classic Plot Structure:
. Plunge your main character (lead/hero/heroine) into terrible trouble as soon as possible.
The definition of “terrible trouble” differs depending on your genre. For a thriller it may mean your hero is hanging from his fingernails from a railroad trestle. For a cozy romance, it may mean your heroine must choose between two seemingly perfect suitors, each of whom harbors a dark secret.
. Everything your character does to get out of the trouble makes it only worse.
The complications must be logical and grow increasingly bad until...
. The lead’s predicament appears entirely hopeless.
. Finally, because of what the conflict has taught the character from the beginning, your lead rises to the occasion and battles out of the trouble, meets the challenge, accomplishes the quest, or completes the journey.

Second is the LOCK system by James Scott Bell.

The LOCK System:
Plot & Structure: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot That Grips 
Readers from Start to Finish. James Scott Bell. Writer’s Digest Books. 2004

James Scott Bell created the LOCK system of organizing a story after analyzing hundreds 
of novel plots. He developed the following mnemonic to represent his plotting method.


Bell says you must have a compelling lead character—somebody the reader 
will want to follow throughout the story.
I usually go to my list of hero and heroine descriptions, find one who fits the 
storyline, then  answer a list of questions about the character.

The lead character needs an objective—a want, or desire. We often use the term,  ‘goal’

Objective is the driving force of fiction. It generates forward motion and keeps the Lead from just sitting around. ~ James Scott Bell.

Bell says that there are two types of objectives :
to get something
to get away from something

I also add—to take something away from somebody.
You may have more objectives to add.

The lead character is on his way to realizing his objective but must confront opposing forces. We often term this as ‘conflict’ from an antagonistic force.

Opposition from characters and outside forces brings your story fully to life. ~ James Scott Bell.

Bell also has a fine way of explaining this confrontation:
Get your protagonist up a tree
Throw rocks at him
Then get him down.

I like to say—Get your protagonist in a bad place, make it badder, make it more badder, then make things better.

Knockout is the term Bell uses for the big fight or satisfying 
climax that any reader wants from the story.

A Quick Plotting Formula using LOCK: from Writeworld

Write a quick plot for your current story idea. Use four lines, one for each element of LOCK.
My Lead is a _______. 
His/Her Objective is to _________. 
She is Confronted by _______ who opposes her because__________. 
The ending will be a Knockout because__________.

Brenda’s Bio:

Brenda and her husband make their home in beautiful East Texas where they enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling, and working in Bethabara Faith Ministry, Inc. She crafts stories about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people in her favorite place overlooking bird feeders, bird houses, and a variety of blooming trees and flowers. She sincerely thanks all who purchase and read her books. Her desire is that the message in each book will touch the heart of the reader as it did hers in the writing.

Contact Information:

A Highland Emerald

A Highland Emerald is the third book in the award-winning Highland Treasures series. It tells the story of Aine MacLean and William Munro, and is the prequel to A Highland Pearl.

Aine MacLean is forced into an arranged marriage with Sir William, Chief of Clan Munro, yet her heart belongs to a handsome young warrior in her father’s guard. She must leave Durant Castle, the home of her birth on the Isle of Mull, and travel across Scotland in a perilous journey to her husband’s home on Cromarty Firth. William agrees to a year and day of handfasting, giving Aine an opportunity to accept him and his clan. He promises her the protection of Clan Munro, however, Aine experiences kidnapping, pirates, and almost loses her life in the River Moriston. She doubts the sincerity of William’s promises and decides to return to Durant Castle when the handfasting ends. William determines to win Aine’s heart. Will the brave knight triumph in his fight for the bonnie lass?

Buy Links:   Amazon     iBooks     Smashwords


Paris said...

Interesting post, Brenda! Great advice for plotting. Over the years, I've become a sort of hybrid panster/plotter. I enjoy that first rush of getting the story and characters, who they are and what they want, but then plot the why they aren't getting it.

jean hart stewart said...

Good advice, and intriguing sample... I often quote something Mary Balogh told me when I attended one of her speeches. I asked he what to do when you get bogged down in a soggy plot. She said, make it worse, which is the best advice I've ever had.

Brenda Taylor said...

Thanks for visiting, Paris and Jean. I'm trying to be more of a plotter instead of panster.

Melissa Keir said...

What an interesting way of looking at it. I had a conversation with my nephew about writing and he likes to use the snowflake where you start with one line (tagline) and then it grows to a blurb (summary) and then he writes the first page... sorta like a snowflake growing. I think there are as many different ways to get to writing as there are authors. I do enjoy seeing what others do!

Good luck with your story. I love the cover and time period!

Brenda Taylor said...

Thanks for visiting Melissa. I've heard of the snowflake method, but haven't tried to write a story using it.

Share buttons