Plot is important to a novel. Whether you plan it out to the finest detail before hand, or make it up as you go along, plot is central to a good story. That doesn’t mean that coming up with one is easy. In fact, it can be downright challenging. It’s a point that I came up against when putting the plot together for the book I’m currently writing. Below, are some of the tools I used to allow the plot to write itself.

What Lingering Problems Are There and How Do They Tie In With The Plot’s End-Goal?

If you’re in the midst of a series than chances are your characters are dealing with old unresolved issues as well as whatever problems they face in their current adventure. However, these loose threads don’t have to be stand alone adventures, but encounters that can help or hinder your protagonist primary goal. In the book that I’m currently writing the main protagonist needs to forge an alliance, but there are many who are opposed to it, some of these individuals stemming from unresolved problems in the previous adventure. By having the protagonist address these issues, she’s able to advance the cause of the alliance while quelling unrest.

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What Characters Do You Need and What Will They Do?

Sometimes you find yourself with a scattering of plot segments but no idea how to thread them together into a cohesive story. You know where you want to start, you know where you want to end, but you have no idea what is to go into the middle. I faced this problem when developing the plot for the second novel of the trilogy that I was writing. Instead of trying to force out a plot I focused on the characters. I made a list of those that I knew would be in the story, wrote out ones that I figured I’d need, and then jotted down their personalities and the problems that I felt they’d cause. This produced a large volume of information and ideas that helped me to develop a plot where nothing existed before.

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Let A Character’s Personality Dictate Their Actions

Let’s face it. People are predictable. Narcissists don’t suddenly turn into pillars of compassion. Aggressive individuals don’t develop a sudden desire to sit down and discuss their feelings. People have personalities that dictate their actions, and those actions tend to follow a certain standard of behavior. This is why one of the first things I do when developing a story is to write a character profile with specific attention to each individual’s personality. It creates rules set in stone that–aside from a major character shift–insure that the individual’s actions stay consistent. It can also help furnish a plot. If your at a stand still examine your character’s personality and ask yourself this; what would they logically do based on their personality. If you know your character well, an aster should provide itself in fairly short order.

Plots don’t always come naturally and theres more to consider in writing a great novel than simply connecting the dots. But letting the plot build itself isn’t a bad start and can lead you to something fantastic.

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