R S Belcher: Building a Haunted House

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Years ago, I recall reading a suspense novel by Harlan Corben, I honestly can’t recall the name of the book – I think it was Gone for Good. It was well-written, enjoyable and kept my interest, it was also one of the reasons so many writers say you need to read to write. Coban’s novel was to the plot twists, what high-fructose corn syrup is to junk food. Pretty much every chapter ended with some kind of shocking revelation that shifted everything you thought you knew about the characters and the plot—this character wasn’t really dead, they were in fact someone’s mother/daughter/long-lost step-son/ St. Bernard… you get the idea. The first few twists blew me away, but by the end of the book it was, well, funny. I’d get to the end of a chapter and laugh at what new M Night Shyamalan-esque twist the author threw at me.

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Joshua Palmatier — Plot: Losing Control

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SHATTERING THE LEY: Plot: Losing Control

Welcome to my third guest post about my new novel, SHATTERING THE LEY (in stores now)! Again, thanks to Magical Words for inviting me.

As you may have read in my previous post about character, I’m an organic writer, sometimes also called a pantser. What this means is that I don’t have much of a plan when I sit down to write my novels. Usually I have a few “guideposts”—basically a couple of plot elements that I think are going to happen (usually something about halfway through and something at the end). But when I sit down to write, I let the characters take control. Most of the time, the characters end up in situations close to those initial guideposts. But sometimes . . . not so much.

That “not so much” happened with SHATTERING THE LEY. Almost as soon as I sat down [...]

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Darynda Jones — The Writing Process of An OCD Plotter

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Thanks so much for having me! I thought I’d talk about my writing process today because it’s a doozy. LOL. And I have learned NOT to mess with that process lest I bring the wrath of the gods of writer’s block down upon my head. Here is my step-by-step to creating a book. (Pantsers [aka, people who write by the seat of their pants] might want to skip this part. It could give you hives.)

Just for the record, I plot like there’s no tomorrow. I barely start a book without three distinct outlines.

The Skeleton Key: This answers four basic questions: Where are we? What time of day is it? What major event happens in this scene or series of scenes? And in what order does the story unfold? (I like this because it helps me quickly find where [...]

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Gail Z. Martin: Plotting out the Plot

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Outlines are great, but I have discovered a new power tool when it comes to plotting—flow charts.

Publishers like to see a synopsis and a detailed outline. These help a lot, but I’ve found that when I really get into the nitty-gritty of writing, they often are too high-level to point me in the right direction. In a 600+ page epic fantasy with multiple point-of-view (POV) characters and interweaving plot threads, it can get difficult to keep straight who is doing what to whom.

Enter the flow chart.

Mine are pretty simple. I use either several pieces of legal-size table paper taped together or a white board. I start with chapter numbers across the top, and the names of the POV characters down the left side. Then I note who is doing what in each chapter. Usually, one character owns the POV [...]

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On Plot (Baseball Games and Beauty Pageants)

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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 rules—no [...]

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Amy Sterling Casil on Plot: WTF is Going On?

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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

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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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