by Linda O. Johnston
My fellow Writers in Residence always seem to come up with some wonderful writing advice when they blog here.
Me? Not so much.
Oh, I love writing. It’s what I do. And years ago, I used to attempt to learn, and follow, all the rules I could.
Now, I’m just used to doing it my way–which, yes, does include some rules, at least.
And what is that way? Well, first I need to come up with an idea. What kind of idea? That depends on what I want to write next. These days, that’s nearly always a romantic suspense book or a mystery that is part of, or might become, a series.
Then what? Well, I sit in front of my computer and plot. And plan. And more.
Over my many years of writing I’ve come up with what I call a “plot skeleton.”
It has various blanks to fill in, although I don’t always complete everything. The beginning is just a blank where I put down anything that appears in my head. From there, I’ll focus on my main characters and write all that comes to mind about them: their backgrounds, what they’re doing now, why they get involved in this story, and what’s likely to happen to them–often putting it into a character arc.
I also make a list of other characters at the end, though it doesn’t have to be complete.
Eventually, I get around to my actual plotting part, where I have blanks to fill in that generally follow screenplay plotting: grabber, three acts that are each ended by a plot point, a black moment, climax and ending. Do I follow them all exactly? No, but having the skeleton there to fill in is a good reminder if I choose to do so.
And then–I use that screenplay plotting to create the synopsis. From there, if I need to put together a full proposal, I write the first three chapters.
Simple? Yes… and no. But it works for me.
So Happy Post-Halloween, and my skeleton is still keeping me company! And if you’re a writer, may you plot the way that works best for you.
Photo by Matthew Schwartz, Unsplash
(Linda O. Johnston's article was posted by Jackie Houchin)