The Writing Life: Novel Plot.
The plot to your story or novel might be seen as the story’s framework. It includes the elements of conflict, crisis, and resolution. All conflict must lead to action. That action must bring a reaction that furthers the conflict and leads more action and rising tension.
John might be in love with Mary, but Tom wants Mary not because of love but because he sees her as a challenge, a potential conquest. Throw in a healthy dose of deception, ulterior motives and emotion and you’ve got a story that draws the reader in and has him or her moving forward to see what happens next.
The antagonist must throw everything he has at the protagonist in an effort to thwart his efforts to reach his goal. This can include murdering minor characters that support and help the protagonist, blowing up the protagonist’s home or car, spreading lies about the protagonist and anything else that throws an obstacle in the path of the protagonist. Conflict must abound. The battle must be a life and death struggle between what the protagonist wants and what the antagonist wants.
When I plot a novel, I like to start by giving a title to each chapter. This title feeds the conflict that leads to action that propels the story to the next level—the next chapter. This chapter naming forms part of the framework for the story. I can go back later and expand on each chapter by fleshing out the characters and adding description to the setting.
Writing a novel is much like painting a picture. Background colors are laid down, and then other colors are added layer by layer. The process can be time consuming and requires much attention to a lot of small details. I think that when a writer approaches the story in this way it eliminates the panic that often comes when the writer wonders, “What Next?” The “what next” will come as you come up with unique twists and turns of conflict that will move the story forward.
Finally, there must be a resolution or ending. This is when things either change for the better or for the worse comes about for the characters. The ending must tie up all the loose ends and reinforce the change.
Plotting a novel involves a lot of thought. I like to have brainstorming sessions during the planning stage of preparation. I brainstorm on title, chapter headings, characters, theme, conflict and all the other elements that must be included to create a rich and exciting experience for the reader. Writing novels and even short stories is much like building a house. Great builders use quality components to build a solid house that will last for years. Great writers must use the best of plot, theme, characterization, conflict and resolution over and over again in the construction of a solid story.