What is Plot and Why is it Important?

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Plot is one of the essential elements of story (which I wrote about in my blog How to Start Writing). Plot is what drives your story, along with characters. Your plot is your key events that moves your story in the direction that you want it to go. It is what gets your characters from beginning, through the middle, and to the end of the story.

Every story needs a beginning, middle, and end.

This does not need much explanation. The beginning is usually the introductory to the characters and setting. The middle usually starts after the inciting incident and ends at the climax. The end usually starts before or after the climax and finishes after the resolution.

Every plot needs: exposition, inciting incident, rising action, climax, falling action, and the resolution.

Exposition: the intro to characters and setting on a normal day.

Inciting Incident: where everything changes. The point of no return. It’s what sets the story into motion.

Rising Action: this is the meat of the story. This is where the struggles are overcame, where the plot thickens, and where your antagonist’s story grows towards the ever-awaited climax.

Climax: the most exciting part of the story. The turning point where the conflict is at its highest. This where the most dramatic parts of the story happen. A loved character is mortally wounded, or unexpected news is revealed.

Falling Action: the aftermath. This is where the story moves towards resolving the conflict.

Resolution: the conflict is resolved. Usually, the good guy wins. The plot is tied up in a nice big bow, if you’re a nice writer. Some writers aren’t so nice. This is where you write the end of the story. This is where you close the curtains and leave the reader with fulfilment, questions, or even dismay.

These are the bare necessities that your story needs. It’s up to you to put a spin on it. Perhaps you’ll start at the end and work backwards with your plot as a retelling of events. I encourage you to try new things and to put your own spin on these essentials.

Personally, I like to give a fake climax before the real climax. This fake-out is usually unexpected and makes the readers even more excited for the real climax. I also like to give little curveballs during the falling action and resolution. I like adding that little extra drama towards the end to keep the readers entertained and to keep it from becoming boring.

You’ve probably seen the plotting diagram that looks like this: _/\_

I prefer a much bumpier plot. I like to imagine it like a mountain. There will always be the highest peak, where the climax is, but there are some other peaks that are still pretty darn daunting. Most mountains aren’t smooth and structured like that diagram, and neither should your story. Always give your readers a rollercoaster ride.

I once was told (or read) once that you have to put your character up in a tree, with no way to get down. Then you have to throw rocks at them. I would even add a thunderstorm and lightning into the mix. Basically, your character needs to struggle and grow. That’s what a good story about, isn’t it?

Thank you for reading,

Lalia LaRose

Update: The Last Queen of Terrivea

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Hello Readers, I am nearing 50,000 words in my novel! It is quite exciting for me, since I have never actually written a full length novel. This will be a huge accomplishment for me, when I finish it. I would say I am 2/3 done the plot and the climax is getting closer.

This is a brief update that I wanted to make since I hadn’t made any other updates since the first post.

Thanks for reading,

Lalia LaRose

How to Choose and/or Create a Setting for your Book

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Setting is one of the Five Elements of Story that I wrote about in my blog post: How to Start Writing. Once you have a character, you then have to figure out where and when they are. Remember, the setting has an influence on the character. So if your desired setting and your character don’t seem to match, you might have to change one of them.

When you are deciding on a setting you have two choices: real or fantasy. You can set your book in a real town or city found on earth, or in a made-up town or city found on earth, or you can even build your own world for your book. Each option comes with its challenges.

Writing in a setting that is real and tangible, means that you will either need to visit that place and/or research it. Say if your book is set in New York City. If you live there, it would be easier for you, but if you don’t live there then you will need to do your research. If you write your book with a real setting that you have NOT researched that will convey to the readers. Readers can sense bullcrap just by reading the back-page blurb. Always do your research!

If you are creating a fictional town or city, you will have to determine where this town/city is located. Then you have to determine the size and population of the town/city. After that, you will need to have a good image in your mind what it looks like. You will want to have a history of the town and other culturally significant facts. You’ll want to know what kind of resources and shops that town has. You will want to know it as well as you know your own hometown.

The book series The Caster Chronicles, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is set in the fictional town of Gatlin. Garcia and Stohl were able to create a small town that is believable on all levels. The residence of this town are believable and the history of the town is believable. This is the best possible example I could give you. It is an amazing series.

Another option, usually chosen by fantasy writers, is creating your own world. I won’t go into a lot of detail because there’s a lot you need to know about world-building. When creating a new world you have to have a set of rules that are followed throughout your world. Things like magic, gravity, and physics need to be dealt with. Is there magic? Is there gravity? Does the world physically behave like earth? You need to have a good understanding of your new world before you actually start writing. You need to know it as well as you know earth. How was it created? What does it look like? What’s the culture like? and so on.

No matter which route you go, you need to make sure that your setting fits with your story. If the setting and the story don’t seem to sit well with each other, you might have to reconsider your setting. You also have to determine all the settings you’ll need for your story. Will your story stay in one place for the majority of the time? Will there be traveling? How many settings will you need and how well should you know them? You have to know these things when you write a book.

Also, you need to know what time your book is set. Is it in the past, present, or future? In a fantasy world, this is harder to determine, so you need to know your world’s history and go from there. With any of these options, again, you’ll need to do your research.

There are a lot of considerations that go into setting a book. I have given you the essential tools you’ll need, but there are other small things you will also need to consider. Like: locale, time of year, time of day (for specific scenes), how time flows, mood and atmosphere, climate, geography, historical importance, social/political/cultural environment, population, and ancestral influences. (Check out the full list and explanations at Writer’s Digest Discover The Basic Elements of Setting In a Story.)

P.S- I will be making a post going into depth about World-Building in the future.

Thanks for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

 

The Importance of Having SMART Goals as a Writer and How to Make Them

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SMART Goals are goals that have these five attributes:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-Oriented
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

Goals can be Immediate (1-30 days from when they are set), Short Term (3-9 months), and Long Term (1-10 years). As a writer it is important to know what direction you want to move in. If you are starting the first manuscript of your book, you know you have a lot of writing ahead of you. SMART Goals are the best way to organize and plan for the steps of creating your book.

Specific:

Ask yourself “What am I striving for?” or “What do I want to accomplish?”. If you answer “Write at book!” you are half way there. With such a big project you need to break it down into smaller more specific parts. Start off with something like: “I want to outline my book and it’s characters” and then move into “I want to write and finish a novel” then you can even move on to set a goal about editing and so on. You need specific goals to keep you focused.

Measurable:

Ask yourself “How will I know I’ve obtained my goal?” For a goal to be measurable you need to have finish line. Lets use the “I want to write and finish a novel” and expand it. What characteristic does a novel have that we can use as a milestone? According to the internet a novel should have a word count of 50,000 to 110,000 words. Making an outline will also help you keep your goal measurable, since your plot points act as milestones towards your ending. So now our example goal will be: “I will write a finished novel that is 50,000-110,000 words.”

Action-Oriented:

Ask yourself “Do I have steps in place to motivate me?” When making a SMART goal you need to make sure you can achieve your goal, by keeping yourself motivated. You need a system in place that will keep you working towards your goal. For example: writing X amount of words a words a day, or reading books and blogs to help you improve your writing. Sometimes staying motivated is the hardest part about writing, but whatever you do, don’t give up! Keep moving forward! Now our example has grown into: “I will write a completed novel that is 50,000-110,000 words, by writing every day.”

Realistic:

Ask yourself “Is my goal realistic? Can I actually achieve this goal?” It is harmful to set yourself towards a goal you can never achieve. In the end you will feel like a failure, even though no one could complete the goal. For example: writing best book in the world! This is an unrealistic goal, because there will never be a ‘best book in the world’. Everyone’s opinions on books is different, and so there is no ‘best book in the world’. However, you can write a good book. That is achievable and realistic. You just need to work hard and improve your writing skills every day. Here’s our example now: “I will write a GOOD completed novel that is 50,000-110,000 words, by writing every day.”

Time-Bound:

Ask yourself “When do I want to complete this goal by?” However, you have to take into consideration what your goal is. If you are writing a 110,000 word novel, you will need a considerate amount of time to complete that goal. For our example it would be safe to set it as a long-term goal. Lets say 1 year. This is our SMART goal:

“I will write a GOOD and completed novel that is 50,000-110,000 words, by writing everyday for the next year!”

Other things to keep in mind:

When it comes to large goals, like the one we just made, it is usually easier to break it down into smaller parts. For example: writing a specific word count on a schedules basis. Using daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, biannual, and annual goals you can help yourself achieve long-term goals. Basically you are making smaller goals to help you achieve your larger goal. For example: “I will write 12,500-27,500 words quarterly to achieve my goal.”

Here is our COMPLETED SMART goal example:

“I will write a GOOD and completed novel that is 50,000-110,000 words, by writing everyday for the next year. I will write 12,500-27,500 words quarterly to acheive this goal.”

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me! I will be writing a post about my quarterly goals very soon.

Thanks for reading,

-Lalia LaRose