Writing Tips Wednesday

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Let’s talk about plots

This is one of the hardest things to give advice on. Writers jealously protect plot ideas. Where do they come from? Sometimes, you get the plot idea first, then you get the characters, but sometimes you know all about the characters and still no plot.

A friend of mine, a beginning author, recently stated she had an idea of characters but no plot. She asked for help from a group of writers and got a lot of hmming and haaing about it, with most of the advice being just start writing which is very hard for a new and intimidated writer to do–it can daunt seasoned writers too. I like to say it is something that can’t be taught. You either can come up with a plot or you can’t. While I stick by this, I can share some of the ways that I have come up with plot ideas, which I shared with her. I’m happy to say she has now come up with a rudimentary plot.

One tried and true method for me is doing research. Some times in learning about things, ideas present themselves.

Another tried and true way is world building. Is it set in Earth? If not, world building itself is a form of plot. If it is, what time period is it set in? That can nudge out little ideas. Is it our Earth or an alternate Earth? Again, fleshing that out can give details that put together can form a plot.

If you have your characters, start by having them interact. Sometimes the way they do can form at least subplots, if not the main plot. Sub plots make a story richer.

Look at pictures of your subject. Imagery is powerful and may give you ideas you wouldn’t have other wise.

Listen to music about your subject, because sound is as stimulating as vision.

Do you know your genre? Read other books on the subject to get an idea of what else is  out there and so you don’t inadvertently plagiarize.

Bounce ideas with trusted people: other authors, avid readers, supportive family members and friends

Some other, less effective for me, methods are let it simmer in the background of your mind. Don’t think about it for awhile.

Take what you know about your story. List each word separately. Now write down words that come to mind from that word, especially ones that seem to make no sense. Piece them together and see what comes out of it.

I’m sure I’ll think of more ways in the future, but hopefully this will get you started! Dig deep and write well!

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