Here are is Your Writing Treasure! Do not waste it!
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 a conflict but sure it is really 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 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 recommend always 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 more clear 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 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 an 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 nightmare, really strange nightmares! You can certainly achieve creating conflict by nightmares! So that is how my Main Hero acquires his powers!
I bolded the “What if” because, as you saw, plays a great role in plotting your story. Actually 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 acquires 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 thing to happen?
“Yes! I have super powers!” ? Well probably not except if you were a really 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 I should think?
“I am 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 being crazy!
You saw once again how crucial it was the “what if” question! Actually I have created a video lesson for how to make an astonishing beginning in 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 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 the 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 you reader has the chance to take a breath and relax before the next conflict starts. We will talk in a 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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4.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 definitely 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 really 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 will make it back he has to consider football and winning 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 to 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 why 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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3. 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:
- Main Hero
- MH’s close company
- MH’s second company
- Villain’s company
- 3d characters.
- Leading characters
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 to seem “better” in any kind of 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 definitely 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 effectively our Main Hero to achieve his goal. 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.
This is your MH 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 the 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 love drawing as well but she knows that she would never be as good as Sara. She comes from a really 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 need 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!
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.
These are characters are not taking part effectively in our story. For example it could be the milkman (if you are in US), the 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!
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 for 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!
2. 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:
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!
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?” 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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1.The Page that can Kill you or Save you!
Whatever you might want to write about your surely want to make your first words count! The reason is that nobody cares about you but for your story. Yes! You have to admit it. We all have and the soonest the better. When somebody takes a brief look at our script/draft/play etc he seeks for a reason not to leave it aside and find something better to spend his time with. That is your chance (and probably your only one) to convince him that he MUST continue reading your book. Your first page is the MOST important because of that reason. It is the page that can kill or save your whole book. Now how can I write a first page that makes the reader feel that he MUST continue reading?
Let’s say that you are writing Fiction.
The best way to start compelling first page is to start from the very first line of it or at least from the very first paragraph. Let’s take a look to these examples:
The time was 9:00 am when I heard my alarm clock ringing. “Another boring day” I thought wishing something interesting to happen. (Well your reader probably hopes the same!). I went all the way to the kitchen of the house. I opened the fridge and got something to eat. I finished my breakfast and then took my dog for a walk.
Ok I admit it. I purposely wrote that paragraph so bad to give you a great example of the worst way to begin your story.
Why is so bad?
Because it tells nothing! There is no conflict, there is no mystery, there is no drama, there is nothing to make me wonder what happens next? Now I purposely bolded some words. Let’s take a look at them:
• 9:00 am
Hmm not bad. I usually get up by ten but what’s the difference? Could it be if I would change the time?
The only reason I Bolded that is to show you that nobody cares about a boring day. It is not enough to come up with something interesting at the end. It Must begin with something like this.
Try to be more specific. Something tells nothing to your readers. Try to describe it to stimulate your reader’s senses! (We will talk about that in another article!)
Ok let’s see how it can become better.
The time was 6:00 am. Another nightmare! What was it that time? I couldn’t remember but I was still doddering. I tried to sleep again but I couldn’t in the fear of another nightmare. The seventh in the row!
Ok that is much better. It has much of conflict between the character and himself. (Is that considered as conflict? Of course it is! A powerful one! ) Let’s see why is better.
• 6:00 am
Nothing more. Just 6:00 o’clock at the morning. Reader start wondering what is going to happen so early?
• Another Nightmare
Note that our character does not simply wakes up but he wakes up from a nightmare. That ladies and gentlemen is conflict!
• I couldn’t
Makes readers wonder!
• In the fear of another nightmare.
You give the character’s emotional situation. The sense of fear absolutely creates conflict
Lessons learned so far. All about is conflict. The conflict stimulates the reader and makes him wanting to read further so as to know what happens next. You should also leave unanswered question to maximize his curiosity. Another thing to care about is giving your character’s emotional situation. In that way you make your reader fell what your character feels. If he does so he will definitely care about your character. Choose emotions that create conflict! For example:
I am sure you can think of many others as well.
Now let’s take a final look at a third try. This time I will let you try to find the conflict, the emotional state, and the unanswered questions.
This time was my brother. He was screaming bound on his bed. His wrists were bleeding on his efforts to release himself while a few drops had already stained the floor. His deep red eyes were looking at me with this weird and scary way, like the eyes of an insane, as if you stole his life. “Don’t come to find me!” he yelled again and transformed into a deer with emerald horns, escaping from madhouse’s room.
I woke up from an agitation of my hand that forced me to jump out of my warm blankets. I could hear the sound of my breath coming out rapid and brief, while I could smell my own sweat that had soaked my whole body. The time was 6: 00 in the morning and an additional nightmare had invaded my tranquil rest. That was the ninth in a row!
Solakidis Panagiotis. DreamCatcher
I will let you judge the above beginning and please tell me your opinion.
All in all how can you write a stunning beginning? Consider these:
• A mysterious dialogue
• A scene of action
• An unanswered question (John finished his coffee, he looked for just two seconds of the window and takes a deep breath. He lets his cup on the table, he grabs his carbine and start heading to Steve’s.) Ok the narration might not be the best but that’s not the point.
• An anonymous letter.
All these are great beginning and I think that you can think of more if you try.
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