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How to Write a Novel

Step Nine: Advanced Plotting

Not only for diabolical villains.

It’s time to weave all the elements of your story into a bulletproof plot, identifying the holes and patching them up and ensuring there are no carts coming before horses, that sort of thing.

You should already have a rough overview of your scenes, with the goal to decision cycle in place.

Now it’s time to make note of any other important plot points and threads, and weave them in to make sure everything’s consistent and ordered.

If you’re using the Novel Factory software, you can use the Plot Point feature with its colour coding.

There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes a plot point or thread, it’s really up to you to use them in the way you find most helpful, but here are a few examples to give you some guidance.

Character Background

You may want to reveal parts of a character’s background slowly throughout the story. For example, near the beginning you hint they have a troubled past. A couple of chapters later, you drop in that their mother is dead. A little later you reveal that the mother committed suicide, and finally deal the crushing blow that it was our character that drove their own mother to suicide.

By making individual plot points for each of the points revealed above and colour coding them the same, you can keep track of this ‘mother’ thread, making sure you don’t miss any of the steps out. Then you can shuffle the plot points into an appropriate scene in your story.

Items

Objects can play big role in a plot, whether it be: a gun, a necklace or a book of magic spells, and you might want to keep track of when they come up in the story. You can create a plot point for each time the item is mentioned, including in what context and any other useful information, and colour code them into a thread.

Clues

Especially if you’re writing a mystery or crime thriller, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your clues, to make sure they come in a sensible order and nothing important is missed out. By using the plot points you can view all of them at a glance, and even group them into colour coded threads.

Off-screen events

You may want to keep notes on events that take place that aren’t directly shown to your reader, but that affect the plot and situation the characters find themselves in. This can be another good use of plot points and plot threads.

Don't be afraid of making changes. If you spot something that seems awkward or doesn't feel right, investigate and make the changes now. It's so much easier editing the plan than it is trying to iron out the kinks in the novel once you've done all the writing!

Task Nine: Keep shuffling, adding, editing and deleting plot points until you’re satisfied that your plot is in good shape.

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