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How to Write a Novel: Plotting

            My intention today was to compile a list of posts, forum links, and websites that explain showing versus telling after seeing the issue come up for the umpteenth time on the absolute write forums. But that’s going to take a while, so I decided to a post on plotting.

            Writers, particularly new writers, can very easily mix up story and plot. I did. A good story has a good plot, but a good plot doesn’t mean you have a story. Plot is the events that happen in the novel. But it’s easier to show you how this works that to tell it. So let’s go with that pretend story that would actually make a good story in the future when I’m not editing a novel about the girl who has to defeat the sexist maniac.

            The Story:

            Kiana was happy with her life until an evil tyrannical sexist maniac got elected president of the US, declared martial law and somehow managed to turn himself into absolute ruler of the country. His first act? To declare all people of the female sex as slaves snatch away their human rights. But Kiana’s not going to let that go lightly, and when she rebels against the system, finds herself the leader and founder of a rebellion to take this evil sexist maniac out.

            That’s our story, believability aside, because it would take an alignment of all nine planets (Yes. I still say there are nine) for something like that to happen in real life and an outright crisis. But believability, crisis, and logistics aside, that’s what the story is about. It is going to be centered around Kiana rebelling against the even sexist maniac and nipping this problem in the bud.

            But just because we have a story doesn’t mean we have plot. If that’s your story and nothing happens to propel the story to coming to a resolution, whether good or bad, to this conflict, you have no plot. Plot makes the story people. So with that story in mind, let’s make a plot for it.

            The Plot:
            1) Kiana rebels against the system: How does this propel the story? Well, it’s the inciting incident. The story wouldn’t happen without her rebelling against the system.

            2) Kiana goes on the run: Well she obviously can’t stay where she is. She has to go somewhere. If she stays, she’s captured, killed or made a sex slave and that’s it for this story. So yeah, that’s definitely an important event.

            3)Kiana finds shelter with a young man (he probably has sisters now that I think about it) in the city and he’s hot: How does that propel the story? Well, first of all, Kiana has somewhere to hide now. Second of all, the young man is the hot guy that Kiana eventually has a romance with, but that’s not important right now.

            4) Kiana’s rebellion spurs a nationwide rebellion against the system: Well, if her actions don’t spur rebellion, there is no story.

            5) Kiana has to flee again: With the hot guy in tow this time and where do they flee to…

            6) Kiana find the underground rebellion and they make her their leader: I have no idea what underground means at this point since I’m not actively trying to write this story and I don’t know how they come to the conclusion that she’s going to make a great leader, logistics aside, this is what happens!

            I’d be all day trying to plot out and speculate this whole story and if I do that, I may as well write it. Again, believability and quality aside, the above is plot. If those things randomly happened without the goal in mind of getting us to the eventual resolution to the conflict, it isn’t plot, just a bunch of stuff that happens.

            Plenty of stuff happens to me in the day, but if I wrote a memoir about my college journey, I wouldn’t tell you about how I went on a three week vacation unless it somehow had something to do with my college journey. Get it? Events don’t equal plot, plot equals story, and just because you have a story, doesn’t mean you have a good plot.

            If you still don’t get it, I’ll post more links on plot too. Until then, I have to go. Time to happily edit and write!

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