On Plot (Baseball Games and Beauty Pageants)

Mindy KlaskyMindy Klasky

Welcome back to my ramblings! This week we’re going to talk about plot, specifically as it applies to romance novels. As I mentioned last week, romance novels tend to have the same general plot: people (usually two, often-but-not-always one male and one female) meet, fall in love, face some great barrier to staying in love, conquer that barrier, and end up in love. Therefore, the challenge in plotting a romance novel is to make that basic plan seem fresh. That challenge is even greater when one is writing a series of romances–say, for example, a series of nine short, hot contemporary romance novels, like my Diamond Brides series. I’ll use the first volume, Perfect Pitch, as an example.

Here’s the back-of-the-book-blurb for Perfect Pitch:

Reigning beauty queen Samantha Winger is launching her pet project, a music program for kids. All she has to do is follow the pageant’s [...]

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Amy Sterling Casil on Plot: WTF is Going On?


OK, sit back and enjoy the ride. Here’s some plot advice from someone who had to teach herself how to plot with a sledgehammer and crowbar.

I went to the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop at age 21 and didn’t know what a story was. I estimate it took me another 10 years to finally comprehend plot in the form of a short story. I then wrote 3 novels (2 “for hire”) and finally began to slightly comprehend plot at longer lengths. By working on scripts I began to understand “A” story and “B” story. I finally began to “get” how the skeins of plot come together to form a cohesive whole.

Plot is what happens in the story because of who the characters are and what their context is – time, place, and above all, circumstance.

Just as in real life, we all have choices. [...]

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John Hornor Jacobs: A Few Thoughts on Plotting


In my last post I talked about how it’s character that makes each story unique, not plot, and ran over some of the history of human endeavor trying to codify story-forms and my personal creed of creating characters. However, characters don’t exist in a vacuum. They require a plot in which to exist, space in which to gain momentum and careen and bounce off the walls and other people.

The reality of publishing is that most modern commercial fiction – read as genre fiction – is plot driven. How do you write compelling plots?

A plot is only effective as its cast or dramatis personae, the protagonist(s), antagonist(s), and supporting characters. If a main character is flat or unrealized, then the plot will be sluggish. If I’m writing a horror novel and my audience has no engagement with my characters, then I can place the characters in conflict [...]

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PLOTTING WITH BUNNIES (or whatever other animal you like. Want a hippopotamus? By all means, plot with hippos.)

James R. Tuck

Character and Plot. The two things you need to make a book. (Please don’t cite me examples of books that have one but not the other. Those are outliers and not the main thrust of books.) Generally speaking those are the requirements.

Now for most folks, myself included, character is actually pretty easy. They come swaggering up in our heads all badass and near fully fleshed out. The plots? They’re a different story. Plots are tricky little devils and hard to get hold of sometimes.

But that’s because we overthink them.

We do. As writers our brains are moving 90 to nothing and cruising top speed down multiple tracks. We mix our plot up with the following things: Character, Backstory, World-building, Themes, and Motives.

But we don’t need that for the actual plot.

The plot is the skeleton you hang all that meat [...]

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On Writing: Outlining Vs. Pantsing Revisited


This week I will begin writing Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth book in the Thieftaker Chronicles. For those of you who are fans of the series, don’t panic. Book three, A Plunder of Souls, is not yet out and won’t be for close to a year. Authors are almost always at least a full book ahead of the publication schedule. On the other hand, if you haven’t yet read book two, Thieves’ Quarry, all I can say is what the hell are you waiting for…?

I spent part of last week outlining the book, and thought that I would return to the subject of outlines and pantsing, since it is something that still comes up quite a bit on this site and also in panels. I know that we talk about there being no single right way to do any of this, and I still believe that. But in this [...]

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OMG WRITING Y’ALL (or not another con report)

James R. Tuck

Whew to the Dragoncon.

I miss it. I miss my peeps. It is always awesome seeing my fellow magical words family although Dragoncon is SO busy we only get to spend minutes together. (Lucienne, I still owe you that drink and AJ I didn’t even SEE you) But after Faith and John ‘s excellent con reports I have decided that this will NOT be about Dragoncon.

Instead I am going to talk to you about writing. (Inspired by a panel at Dragoncon)

I know, crazy right?

Let’s talk about character. Character is story. Some of you are looking at me going: “No James, PLOT is story. Characters are the subject of story.”

You’re kinda right, but not really. You see your plot is determined by your characters decisions. Every character, from the main protagonist to the most minor walk on character can radically change your story if they make their [...]

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On the relationship between plot and character

Carrie RyanCarrie Ryan

Protagonists are the reader’s conduit into the story — without them, the story pretty much wouldn’t exist. Often I think there are two ways writers come up with characters: either the characters come first to mind and you then figure out what story to build around them, or you come up with a story and you then figure out what character to put into it.*

Either way, at the end of the day what you want to end up with is the right character for the right story (or the right story for the right character). There should be a reason *this* character has to tell (or experience) *this* story. There’s an interlocking relationship there. If we can pull out the character from a story and replace them with someone else without affecting the story, then the relationship between plot and character isn’t strong enough. The same is [...]

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