Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 03/13/15


S.I. Hayakawa (English professor, president of San Francisco State University, and U.S. Senator) is also known to have stated that writers of fiction must be aware that readers will demand a constant increase in the number and “variety of life experiences” they will experience in novels.  For me, this means that I need to have a solid PLOT in place—the actions and events—that my characters will walk through.  These are also actions, events, circumstances and scenarios that will provide the changes within the characters (as mentioned in last week’s blog).

Here are a few questions to ask while developing YOUR storyline/plot.

  1. Does the story interest you? If you’re working too hard to develop a plot that you think is good—or that someone else told you is “great”—STOP. Some writers I know literally break their story elements up (on 3×5 cards) and re-set (reposition) them. If it’s still not working, don’t hesitate to file it away for another day. Often, good pieces will find their way into other manuscripts.
  2. How is the story unfolding? Is it fast-paced enough to keep readers turning those pages? Or is it putting them to sleep? Unlike movies, you don’t need an explosion or car chase in every scene. However, the steps the characters are taking do need to offer the reader something, such as intrigue, mystery, curiosity or hope, to nudge them along.
  3. Are there enough complications and/or twists to drive the character development and cause your readers to consider what they would do in that situation? Once you’ve engaged a readers involvement to this level, you’ve captured an audience base for future novels.
  4. Is your plot “cliché,” predictable or a formula format? We’ve all “suddenly” found ourselves writing such a story because many of our early reading favorites have been just that—the basic “hero gets the girl” plot. As you’ve probably noticed in today’s multiple TV Marvel series, this genre/plot development remains a valid and profitable one. Happily, they are also mixing in a variety of actions and events that develop the characters in interesting and believable ways.

SO…bottom line…start with the basics of plot development.  Remember the book reports you had to do in high school? Most suggested the same outline for discussion as used by the authors to build their stories. If your geometry teacher were illustrating this, it would look a little like stair-steps with an occasional drop downward—then climb upward—showing crisis and recovery moments.  Somewhere toward the middle a discovery would be made that demonstrated the change in the way a specific character thinks and/or reacts.  And so it would continue until the dramatic, climactic end.

The development of the storyline/plot is often felt within the writer, too.  That’s actually a very good thing because it relates to point #1—Does the story interest you?  If writers fail to become involved with what is happening in their stories TO their characters, the novel will most likely fall flat.  IF you’re just starting your writing career, connecting with a trusted “reader” or ghostwriter can make all the difference in productive marketing after your book is published. Don’t hesitate to seek (and accept) good advice.

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

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