How To Plot A Novel: Building A Strong Fictional Storyline

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The plot of a novel is a series of events and actions that drive the story forward. It is the backbone of the narrative, guiding the reader through various developments, conflicts and resolutions that make the core of your story. 

However, creating a well-structured and engaging plot is indeed challenging. A number of authors take months to come up with the plot for their novels because your plot will decide which way the story will head. If you are a young author, then it is a must for you to understand how to develop a plot.

Hancock Ghostwriters is a leading ghostwriting agency providing top-tier fiction writing services to self-publishing authors. Over our years of experience, we have helped many authors master the art of plot development for their killer fiction novels. So, to help both new and experienced writers and to make it easy for them to develop the plot for their next killer fiction novel, we have come up with a set of tips.

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10 Tips To Fictional Plot Development

Plotting a novel is a time-consuming and multi-step method, and planning a plot for a novel is a lot different than developing one for a short story. 

So, whether you are new to fiction writing or have already written some of the best novels of all time, we hope these step-by-step tips will help you with your next fiction novel.

1. Generating the idea

Everything starts with an idea. The same is the case with novels. You will need to have an idea, to begin with. Many authors like to just sit and start writing and brainstorming along the way, whereas some prefer researching and reading different articles of different genres, looking for inspiration.

Now, whether you go with the freewriting approach or the research one, it would be best to spend as much time as you can to come up with the idea. Pick something that you find inspiring, something that lights the flame within you.

When you write about something of your interest, it is most likely to get new innovative ideas. Also, think about why you want to write about this specific idea. You must feel connected to your idea if you want to do justice to it.

2. Branch out the possibilities

After you have the basic idea, now is the time to sit on it to make it better and see what you can do with it. For example, if your idea is that you want to write about a social issue like bullying. What are the ways to incorporate bullying in a fictional story?

What sort of setting will you go for? Is this topic the base idea of your comic, or will you mention it in a secretive way? How do you plan on delivering it to the readers if it is a secondary issue?

This technique is called the snowflake method. You take a core idea and then branch out into different possibilities and ways to treat it.

3. Create a simple conflict

A clear conflict not only provides a simple focal point to your narrative structure, but it also provides you with a variety of ways to present it to the readers. A good example of a simple conflict is the “Harry Potter” books.

The author chose a simple conflict of Voldemort’s thirst for power, leading him to kill the protagonist’s parents and wreck a war in the magical world. J.K. Rowling smartly used this conflict and extended it to eight books.

We suggest that you look into genres like fantasy, adventure, or thriller to understand how to mold a simple conflict into a huge story.

4. Pick a novel structure

A story’s structure is extremely important as it guides the overall narrative and reader’s experience. A structure is what decides the flow of the story, and although there are a number of ways to structure your plot, the two most popular structures include:

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  • The hero’s journey

In this structure, the plot revolves around the main protagonist. You introduce the protagonist and then bring in the adventure. The protagonist refuses the call but later agrees following his mentor’s guidance.

During the adventure, the protagonist encounters his allies and enemies. Then he comes face-to-face with the first threshold, which pushes the protagonist to step out of his comfort zone.

After overcoming different challenges, the protagonist meets his ultimate nemesis. Following a tough duel, he finally claims his desired prize before returning home.

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  • Three act structure

This structure is the most commonly used structure for novels. It follows a beginning, a middle, and an end. You start with constructing the world and introducing your characters. Once every important character is in the picture, you put in the conflict.

Next, you give the protagonist an aim and motivation to encounter the conflict. Initially, the protagonist will fail, but it will inspire him to work hard and face the conflict again.

Then starts the final act, where the protagonist encounters the conflict yet again. Here, the protagonist struggles at first but ultimately succeeds.

That said, learning the use of structure is extremely important. Once you finalize one, it will give you a clear idea of how to treat the story.

5. Start building the main events

Start working on the events that will take your story forward. There is no need to build the whole story at once. For starters, all you need is to focus on the main plot points, which include major events, main characters, the idea, and genre.

Once you have all these things, you need to put them in a flow according to your structure and build a narrative that makes complete sense.

Your plot, our expertise!

Join forces with Hancock Ghostwriters and craft a plot that captivates your readers.

6. Work on the subplots

Now that you have all the major events lined out, it is time to branch them out and connect them with the subplots. A subplot is a minor event that connects two main events.

For example, the protagonist sets out on an adventure and meets with an ally later. All the events that happen in the middle, including the journey and circumstances that brought your protagonist and their ally together are subplots.

You must understand that subplots are extremely important for a story as they are a great way to show your characters’ main features. Also, a subplot should not look forced. It must weave into the main story and be important for the advancement of the story.

7. Interlink your events

What do you call a good story? Its likability and the fact how interesting it is comes way after. The first thing that makes a story good is the fact that how much sense it makes. Your story will not make any sense if you just put a set of events together.

There must be coherence, and each event must be linked to the previous one to form a well-written fictional plot. Each event should show the progress of the story and your characters. One thing you also must consider during plot development is that each event should trigger the other so the readers do not get confused.

8. Craft a detailed outline

There is one more thing that you must do before you get down to writing the novel, and that is to have an outline. An outline is a document that has every major point of your book cataloged.

It does not have to be a detailed file. Instead, keep it brief enough to give other people a clear idea of your story. Having an outline helps you in a number of ways,

  • It helps you stay on track with the story.
  • You can always go and double-check if you have missed something.
  •  An already-written plan keeps you from getting distracted.
  • An outline prevents you from having writer’s block because you already have everything written.

9. Explain every loose end

Now that you have the outline, you can look at everything you plan to write in the novel and see if there are any loose ends or plot holes which need your attention. Always remember that editing is a vital part of the writing process.

Your first draft will most likely have a number of errors which you can work on in the later drafts. Another misconception about writing is that we need to edit once the book is complete, which is wrong.

Imagine if you complete the book and later on realize that you have to make one change that will affect the whole story. So, it is better that you edit your outline and try to tie each loose end before you get to writing.

10. Character development is the key

Your characters are the most important part of the story. It is their story, the story will proceed with their actions, and they will decide which way the plot will go. Characters also balance the narrative and keep the readers interested.

So, it is important for your characters to develop through the story and for you to have a prepared plan for how it is going to happen. You cannot leave it to fate to see how your character will emerge at the story’s end.

We suggest that you analyze and build proper character arcs before you start writing. You must also ensure the character arc co-links with the plot. Every event you add to your story must improve your character’s arc.

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Engage A Professional To Shape Your Plot

As we discussed earlier, the plot forms the core of your novel. That is why it demands excellence to be able to capture the reader’s attention. 

But at times, originality can become challenging. Authors often struggle with generating new ideas. If you are going through something like this, we suggest that you seek professional assistance.

With expertise in storytelling, Hancock Ghostwriters helps aspiring authors not just in refining their plots but also offers professional ghostwriting services, allowing authors to focus on more tedious tasks like publishing and design.

Wrapping Up

That wraps up all the tips and tricks we use to develop the plots for our stories. We hope that they prove to be extremely helpful when you decide to write your next fiction novel. If you have any confusion or queries, you can always come back here and go through our guide on developing a killer plot for your fiction novel.

Looking for someone to help you with plot development?

Hancock Ghostwriters is here to bring depth and excitement to your story.

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