Boring (and long), but I need this

Okay, this is sort of sad since I’ve been writing for so long.  You’d think I’d develop a natural rhythm or something, but it hasn’t happened.  When I started my mystery, instead of plotting out every little thing like I usually do, I just jotted down main points and trusted myself to fill in the rest.  That was a bust.  I hadn’t thought the plot through enough, so I stopped writing and did what I should have done in the first place.  And then I got a little gung-ho and made a serious list for myself to follow from now on.  This list, hopefully, is not for everyone.  If you’re lucky, you don’t need it.  But I do.  Maybe it can help somebody else, too, so I’m sharing it.  But if you can think on your feet–or fanny, since you’ll probably be sitting down–faster than I do, ignore this.

First, I start every book with an idea.  I ignore it for a while to see if it’s serious and REALLY wants me to write it.

Second, I think of the people who can tell the story.    Do they interest me?  Do they start yammering in my head?

Third, I write three chapters and see if the story and characters grab me.  If they don’t, they’re toast.  Even if I pound hard, I probably can’t make them walk and talk.  But if they come to life and I want to know what they do and how they do it, I commit to them.

Fourth, I draw out character wheels so I get to really know my characters.

Fifth, I write out plot points.

And finally, I try to bring those plot points to life and start writing.

From now on, this is what I’m using for ME–(and if it helps you, yay!)–to plot my stories:


The first fourth = set-up:  10 chapters (so that word count = ¼ of total for book) (my chapters can be numbered or not, short or long, one scene or more, depending on length of book) :  so, write out 10 plot points that include:

Chapter 1:       INCITING INCIDENT

introduce the MAIN CHARACTER through action

                        introduce book’s BIG PROBLEM (external motivation—what the protag must fix)

Intro. INTERNAL PROBLEM protagonist must face: WHY he has to face problem

Chpts. 1-10:      Introduce MINOR CHARACTERS (a friend,  antagonist, romantic interest, etc.)

Intro. 2nd problem protag must solve (1ST SUBPLOT ties in with plot & theme)

Intro. 3rd problem (2ND SUBPLOT = ties in, too) *I need 2 subplots to reach 60,000+

Ground the story in SETTING—shown through protag’s eyes, why it’s important to him, right feel for story

At end of 1/4th: Protag learns something new that throws him/her (1st plot twist) *KNOW THIS

The second fourth of book (chapters 11-20, will take you to halfway word count for book)   SO, plot 10 more plot points.

Protag sets out to fix problem with a new plan

What seemed easy isn’t, doesn’t quite work

Things get complicated and worse

Subplots get complicated, too

At end of fourth, there’s 2nd plot twist.  *KNOW THIS  Plan fails, or person they suspected has solid alibi, or a new body shows up, or learn something new that throws off everything, so they have to go in a new direction)

The third fourth of book (chapter 21-30).  Write out 10 more plot points:

                         Protag starts work on a new plan, new direction

Looks like he might fail, afraid he’ll lose

One, last plot twist & new direction to end book *KNOW THIS

The last fourth of book (chapers 31-40+)  Write out last 10 (or more) plot points:

                         Resolve smallest subplot, then bigger subplot, then book’s big question

Resolve romance

Wrap up any loose ends, etc.


If I start writing a book with all of this done beforehand, I’m in a lot better shape.  Hope this helps you, and if you don’t need it, good for you!

12 thoughts on “Boring (and long), but I need this

      1. Oh definitely. I do the same. And if something comes to mind as I write, I go back to the plot/plan and make sure it fits. If it does, I make sure to take notes if anything needs to be fixed earlier in the draft. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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