Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 05/01/15


…BEGIN WITH A SEED. Okay, I’m a tree lover (hugger) who especially appreciates the giant trees that look down upon us with such authority.  As I begin my own process of developing a novel (that has been simmering in my thoughts for what seems like decades), I’ve started using the traditional 3×5 cards to plot the story—from seedling concept to full epic ending.  However, being a very visual learner, I’ve also decided to demonstrate the growth and connections of my plot-points by using the basic elements of the Tree-Form (with root system) as well. Here’s how it works (for me)…

  1. Create a file called The Plot TREE (or something like that). Pull in an illustration of a tree with roots, similar to what is shown here.
  2. At the ground-level base of the tree trunk add a 3-5 word statement about the event that starts the whole story.  (This event may—or may not—be the beginning of your novel; however, writers must keep themselves aware of the MAIN event.)  Use a Text-Box so the statement is set in place ON the Tree.
  3. BUILD your PLOT-LINES. Is the Main event connected to a “root” from the past?  If so, create a Text-Box that holds a 1-3 word identifying “clue” and place it in the ROOT section.
    1. If this is a generational event, there may be deeper root text-boxes.
    2. Because there are usually several semi-main events that form the foundation of a good novel, there may be several clue-text-boxes nailed to the tree trunk—in ascending order.
  4. Plot BRANCHES—storyline twists and turns—seem to develop easier using this visual aid.  Don’t hesitate to place several ideas ON the Tree and then let them simmer for a day or two. Then, go back and…
    1. Visualize those event-impacts on all your characters.
    2. Consider if one of the Branch Events fits another character better.
    3. THEN…move to the LIMBS…which will include actions and events in the lives of ALL the characters: Main Characters, Main Supporting Characters and Peripheral supporting characters.

Depending on the length of your novel, this process can be used for the work as a whole, or for individual chapters—all the way to “full foliage” tiny limbs and leaves.  A good exercise before starting your own novel is to select one of your favorite books (a short one) and “work” this process with its plotline. This will give you the feel for selecting your own plot-points and demonstrate where they grow on the Tree.

Of course, this developmental process is just one of many.  However, for my personal taste, I enjoy this method much more that other, more technical ones.  Bottom line, I hope that whatever system you select in building your novel, will work well for you so that your story flows upon the pages and you come to The End ready and excited to publish!

RoyaleneABOUT 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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