Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 03/20/15


When I was still in the high school classroom (teaching advanced writing), I borrowed the Science and Biology teacher’s skeleton for a day. I found it to be a very useful visual in my efforts to explain the importance of actions and events when building the storyline (plot) of short stories and novels. This illustration is from the free ClipArt files and I especially like that the figure is IN MOTION…as the plot should be.


There is an ongoing discussion among writers as to whether Characters drive the Plot or the Plot drives the Characters.  I’m in the first camp—because it is the re-actions of the characters (to the plot action/events) that keep Readers turning those pages.  The skeleton illustration demonstrates that the brain (character thoughts, emotions) send the signal to the other parts (plot action/events) in order to move forward.

I can, however, acknowledge the other discussion position because if there was no “hand” to send a signal to (no planned plot event or action) then nothing would happen.  Ah…the conundrum!

So it is that I focus on the concept of MOTION—moving forward toward my desired conclusion—when developing a plot for any length of fiction.  Here are a few ideas to help with that…

  1. Start with “The End.” Have you seen the TV commercial (mini-short-story) where the cowboy rides off into the sunset and is knocked off his horse by the words THE END? Knowing how you want your story to close should provide many ideas for the characters to “act out” in order to get there.
  2. Think dialogue. Some writers don’t consider dialogue to be part of the definition of PLOT. However, I offer this thought using the above scenario. The cowboy is knocked off his horse—injured—so there will be some type of re-action to that event and (for humans) it usually includes LOUD WORDS. What they say usually leads to the next step in the storyline.
  3. Consider HOT and COLD, never TEPID. Lukewarm, half-hearted plot points usually cause a reader to close the book and not pick it up again. Again, I’m NOT saying that there needs to be an explosion in every chapter. Cold/cool moments are very necessary in order to give readers a chance to consider what has happened, and what they “guess” might happen within the next pages.
  4. Take a look at the skeleton’s CENTER of gravity. The dynamics of motion rely on balance. It is the same with the fiction novel. Protagonists and Antagonists (and their supporting characters) need to be vitally present, active, and positioned throughout the story in a balanced manor.

I hope this running skeleton helps someone better understand the concept of PLOT—actions and events—necessary for excellent fiction writing. Just the “look” of those running bones should spur us all forward just to escape IT!  Smile….and enjoy many inspired hours of creative writing and publishing!

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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