Do not guess. Choose!!!

There are two types of writers.

• Those who do not like to plot and start writing immediately counting on their imagination to lead them through the end
• Those who plan everything (either in detail or not) to have an outline to work with before the start writing.
None of these two categories is wrong or correct. What is true is that those writers of the first category would probably have much more work to do on the editing stage. But it is ok if they do not mind doing so!

“Why they have to do more editing?”

That is because our mind, when writing, might be able to think of conflict but sure it is difficult to think of the greater conflict or the most-suitable one. And even you succeed it once you cannot do it every single time.

“Do we have to plot then before we start?”

No, there is no need for something like this if you have a problem or simply do not want to plot your story. What matters is feeling creative and write about what you have to say. What you have to do is to have in mind that your story is going to need serious editing.

“So, how do we plot our story?”

That is the most-crucial question. I always recommend trying to plot your story, and I am going to show you how exactly to do that right away.

So what do we plot?

We plot the conflict. All our story has to be about a conflict. I will give you an example of my book as I have it clearer to my mind.

My main hero is going to acquire some special powers. Right as I want to write paranormal. Well, it is impossible to wake up one day and just find out that he has some superpowers. [REJECTED]. I could make him acquire his new powers after an animal’s bite but then I might end up writing Spiderman’s story. [REJECTED]. I could make him acquire his powers after an explosion at a factory. If want him alive, he has not to be near the area of the explosion but as close as possible. Hmm, despite the fact that the explosion thing is quite well used by many writers and producers, the whole idea contains conflict, and it is surely better than the previous two. However, I would like something more unusual so… [REJECTED]. We understand that what we have to do is thinking of an uncommon concept that consist conflict too. So for my novel I wondered… What if an inner change starts to my main hero. An inheritance? No, too common. What if something is happening with his brain? We use only the 10%, some say the 5%. What if we manage to use more? I started researching about brain abilities. (I still do as it is a wonderful topic!) So the brain. But the inner change has no conflict at all. How can I create some? Our brain takes great impact from our dreams. What if Neville starts seeing nightmares, extraordinarily strange nightmares! You can certainly achieve creating conflict by nightmares! So that is how my Main Hero acquires his powers!
I bolted the “What if” because as you saw, plays a great role in plotting your story. I believe that you can plot your story only with two questions: What if & How as I did above.
We solved how our Main Hero acquired his powers. Now we have to solve how is he dealing with acquiring them.

Remember! We have to solve it in an uncommon way that it will create conflict.
What would you think if you were noticing strange things to happen?
“Yes! I have super powers!”? Well, probably not except if you were a very young child. And here is where your character’s age matters. For my novel where Neville is 17 years old, something like that is not possible. Honestly? What should I think?
“Am I being crazy? These things cannot happen in real!” That might be an exaggeration but…

What if…

Neville had another brother who got insane too few years ago? Now he has serious reason, or at least fear, for thinking that he is crazy!
You saw once again how crucial it was the “what if” question! I have created a video lesson for how to make an astonishing beginning in a story, where I explain in more detail the “what if” question. You might want to go and check it here

In a similar way, you have to continue about the below thoughts.
• How does he realize his powers?
• How are his powers affecting his relationships?
• How are his powers affecting his main passion? (read about it here)
• How are his powers changing him?
• Do his powers require a sacrifice?

And so on… You can think of as many as you can or believe that are enough.

Next you have to solve in the similar way about the scenery.
• What is the most-suitable season to be?
• What is the most-appropriate place to take place the story?
• What is the most-appropriate place to be each time?
• Is there any place that he cannot be because of his powers?

Now you have to plot the order of those solved problems. For example, it is useless to describe how is Neville dealing with having special powers and fearing for being insane like his brother if you describe first that he found out that he finally has special powers.
Always remember that you have to make an order, in order to create more conflict in the most-uncommon way! Just have in mind, however, that you have to give your reader some space to breath. That means that you have to put some short, maybe, parts between the conflict parts of your story, where your reader has a chance to take a breath and relax before the next conflict starts. We will talk in an another article about how to write such parts, so stay tuned and make sure to subscribe to our email list so as not to miss the next article!

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It is your Main Hero So Make it Count!

Surely your Main Hero is the most important of all your characters. He will grab all of your readers’ attention so you surely want to make him special. Let’s talk a bit about how you are going to make him special.

Step Number One.

You must find your character a passion, like a great love or passion with football. That is what all of his thoughts and actions are about.

Let’s take the second example. Let’s say that our Main Hero is called Tom.

Tom is dreaming of being a famous football player. He has spent all his childhood training every single day. He has posters of all the famous football players posted on his walls. He was very fat, and he had to lose much weight in order to be able to follow his dream but he did it. When his girlfriend asked him more time together, he explained her that he couldn’t as he had to do his training.

That is the step one. You may want to spend about 1/3 of your book describing all these in detail. Notice how his love for football affects all of his decisions.

Step Number Two

Now let’s go to step number two. You must enforce your Main Hero to leave his passion in a dramatic way. Let’s return to our example.

It is the day after Tom’s last astonishing play. His team had just made it to the finals. Tom receives a call from his mother. She informs him that his brother was murder in a hotel’s room. He says that he is going to visit her right away, but she stops him. She tells him that he has to leave the city. When he asks why she sends him a picture in his phone. It is from the room where his brother was murdered. On the walls there was written, probably with blood, “WHY TOM?”

So Tom has either to deal with police or to leave the town. In either way, he cannot continue playing football for a while and surely he cannot make to the finals! What will he choose is up to you but you should know that he has eventually to make it back to his passion, and that is the step number three.

Step Number three

Your hero has to come back to his passion but when he will, he must see his passion in a different way. For example let’s say that Tom, before the whole story with his brother, was willing to do everything in order to win, even if that was something unethical like a tough hit that could make his opponent unable to continue. Or that he had rage issues when he was losing a match. When he makes it back, he has to consider football and to win in a different way. That’s critical because what you should want to show, in order to write a good story, is how a person manages to change his thoughts. Well, the most times is for the better but that does not forbid you make the opposite

Step Number Four

One last thing you have to add to your main hero is a gift. For example, Tom could never make it be considered a great Main Hero if he had no talent in football. You can think of any gist to give to your Main Hero. The reason is that in that way you are making it easier for readers to love him and admire him. You want your readers to love and admire your main hero.

One last thing to remember. Do not make your Main Hero like a God!!! You want him to have weaknesses and fears and all the other stuff we discussed in the article Meet Your Characters. If you haven’t already make sure to check it out!

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Are all the characters the same?

 

After meeting your characters you must know what each character is. At that point, it useful to make clear some basic categories of your Characters. Well here they are:

  1. Main Hero 
  2. MH’s close company 
  3. MH’s second company
  4. Villain
  5. Villain’s company
  6. 3d characters.
  7. Leading characters

Main Hero

Your Main Hero can be a single person or several, like a team. However, do not overdo it! It is critical for your reader to “feel” the main character and be identified with him! The more the main heroes, the more difficult it is. That does not mean that you cannot succeed it or that it is wrong in any case! I just highlight the easiest way. What is wrong is thinking that the more the easiest as more people could find someone to get identified with. Well, if you select to create a team of Main Heroes they must be all of the same level. You do not want to make someone seem “better,” in any kind than the others. If you do so your readers (as they might like another of your main characters) would think “Hey! Cheating!”, and get angry. You surely do not want that. What you could do instead is select one Main hero and make the others his close Company.

Main Hero’s close company

These are all the characters that are helping our Main Hero to achieve his goal effectively. For example, a Harry Potter’s close company is Hermione and Ron.

Main Hero’s second company

These are all the other people might help your MH in some way according to the circumstances. It is up to you who they will be. They could also be totally unknown to your MH.

Villain

He/She is your MH’s antagonist! You have not to make him evil if you do not want to. All you have to do is to explain why he is considered as an antagonist! Yes, you have to make clear his motivations even if they are evil. In that way, you make your readers “feel” your villain as well and understand him. In that way, you create even greater conflict! I will give an example that the villain is an antagonist, but she is not evil at all!

Example: Sara is 18 years old in high school in her graduation year. She loves drawing, and she practices it since she was 8 years old. Her drawings are astonishing, and she hopes to win a scholarship for the Art College. Her family is really poor, and they cannot afford her to study in a university. So the only hope for Sara is to win that scholarship!

Sara, of course, is our main Hero. Let’s get know our villain.

Gabrielle is at the same class with Sara. She loves drawing as well, but she knows that she would never be as good as Sara. She comes from an especially rich family. They want Gabriele to study medicine. Gabrielle hates medicine! However, they pay for Gabrielle’s private drawing lessons as they want their daughter to be the best. Gabrielle needs the scholarship for the Art college otherwise she will end up studying medicine!

Now the Art College announced that they will give a scholarship only for one person! Who is going to win it? Consider how greater the conflict would be if Sara and Gabrielle would be best friends!

Villain’s Company

It is the same as MH’s company. Usually there is not close or second but you can separate Villain’s company if you like.

3d Characters

These are characters are not taking part effectively in our story. For example, it could be the milkman (if you are in US), a salesman in the next door mini market, etc. I suggest keeping the number of 3d characters as small as possible! You do not want to tire your readers describing characters that you are going to use very little or at all in the main plot!

Leading Character

That is a character that leads to the next step of the plot! It has not to be the MH. He might be MH’s mother who tells him that his father was murdered in his lab! Or something like this! You need those characters but be careful of what we mentioned above. Do not create too many 3d characters! So it is better to use someone of the already known characters!

Plotting Your Characters.

I use to mind map my characters. In that way, I have a quick access to all of them and decide when and how I am going to use them. Here is an example. Note that for the description of my MH I have written just the basic t have in mind. Do not do that immediately. First meet your character as we discussed in the previous article!

 

 

 

 

plan

Meet your Characters

Before even you start writing the very first page you should already know everything about the characters that you are going to use. And by that I do not mean a simple description like:

Name: Neville
Age: 17
Height: 1.86
Hair: Brown
Eyes: Blue

Of course you have to know what your character looks like but that is not neither the only nor the most important thing to have in mind. What you must know about him? The answer is EVERYTHING!
This means that you should know his likes and dislikes, his beliefs, his past, the way he thinks about things (like politicians, environment, and human being). You should also know his fears, his passion (we are going to talk more about it in another article) , his secrets and everything else you might think about.

“Why should I have to know all of these?”

The answer is to be able to make your story seem natural and realistic. Think of somebody talking like a genius in the beginning of your story but somewhere in the middle he starts speaking like a little child. Awful and disappointing! (I have done that mistake and felt really awful at the editing process). Or think of someone who cares about the protection of the environment seeing someone throw rubbish on the road and doing nothing!!! These are simple mistakes that occur really often because we created a character but we did not spend a moment considering and writing down his thoughts and beliefs.

“So if I write down all his thoughts among all the other mentioned I can avoid such silly mistakes?”
“You have some more possibilities not to make such a mistake, true, but this is not the best you can do”.
“Then what should I do?”

Let’s take for example the previous character

Well Neville is 17 years old boy who fears of being crazy. His older brother went crazy five years ago and he thinks he is next. He is excellent at school does a lot of exercise. He loves running and much often he wakes up early in the morning to run in the woods. His parents who are meteorologist want to follow their job but he hates it. He want to study nuclear physics. His greater love is Nephele, a girl one year older, but he thinks he is not “enough” for her. He does not only love her but he admires her as well.

Well that’s a really good description. What we know?

• Neville fears of being crazy
• His older brother went crazy (information about his past)
• He likes running
• He hates his parents’ job
• He likes physics
• His greater is Nephele
• He thinks he is not enough for her (far too sensitive and ethical)

So it is significant less likely to make a mistake as described above. Is it enough? I would say no!

“What else?”

You should also try these:

• Interview your character
In that way you can ask him whatever you want and you can rely on his answers. However do not seek only for answers. Observe how your character corresponds to your question, how he answers and his vocabulary level. Is he sincere or not?
• Make a dictionary of your character.
That is the most effective way to know what your character thinks about different things as mentioned. Do not be shy. Try it!

You should make all these for every single character of yours! That is what eliminates the possibility to make a mistake as described. That is all for the moment.

Make sure to subscribe to our list in order to find out about the sequence of the article that is going to be written soon with title “Are all the characters the same?”(click on it to read the new article!) Additionally if you missed our first article about writing an outstanding beginning you can check it out going to back to Writing Treasure or simply clicking here.
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