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Saturday, January 24, 2015

On Writing: What about plot?

I’m not a plotter. I don’t map my way through the book when an idea comes, I don’t try to understand my characters when they first appear to me and I don’t demand answers. I just ask questions. I am one of those writers who write actions and justify them. Is this the right way? I don’t know, but this is the way it happens.

Recently I started reading a book about plot. It’s titled Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and it’s practically a handbook about the story that’s inside your head. It helps you make it into words but also teaches you to structure the words in a way that it’s appealing and even addictive to the reader. It’s a very interesting and helpful book so far, obviously a must read, but I can’t deny that it makes me a little nervous.

A book is not only about the story and the plot is not only about writing the most surprising development so you can make the reader gasp. Plotting means to structure your story in that way that every single page, every single scene will force the reader to keep reading. As if it magnetizes him. Well, you know this is hard.

To do so, you must create some very interesting characters. Surprise, surprise but the lead character is not enough. So when we say plotting, it means being able to answer all the questions about our story, questions that we may have not yet asked.

I figure out the plot, while writing and some of the answers I ask remain unanswered since the plot is changing until I figure out the real story that my character wants to tell me. If I start thinking about plot a lot, I see a wall rising and I freeze. The writing stops and I become miserable. So, I keep writing and the more I do the more I find answers. Like a treasure hunt!

So my advice about plotting is this. Take the idea that is tormenting you and start writing. All you need is that little sparkle and the rest will come. Write by asking questions, answer some and keep writing. At some point you’ll realize that you had all the answers you wanted. All you needed was to write the stuff out of your mind so you can see clearly. Because at the end of the day. As much reading as you have done. As much advices and rules you’ve read, if you don’t write and find out what it works for you, then your story will remain just a tiny idea inside your head.

You don’t want that.

 How does it work for you? Are you plotter? If yes, how do you do it? 


  1. WOW, this prove that writing is not easy. I used to write when I was younger and I usually started with an idea and from then I imagined the rest, The characters appeared while writing and the end was never what I expected.
    Ruty@THE FRIDAY 56

    1. Well, nothing is easy, right? But is so interesting!
      What you describe is wonderful. It is so much fun to discover your characters and the developments along the way.

      Thanks for stopping by, Ruty!
      Have a great week!

  2. Sounds very interesting, Athina, and I'm sure it's very helpful, too! And you're right, there are many things that are important in order to craft a good story readers will enjoy.
    Characters (both main and side), story, plot, world-building and actual good writing (including grammar).

    Have a fantastic evening.

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. I totally agree, Lexxie! It's a bunch of things that make a book stand out. That's the challenge!:)

      Thanks for stopping by.
      Happy Thursday!

  3. So true about figuring out what works best for you. There's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all method, after all!

    And heh, I'm definitely a plotter. I like to blame the control freak inside me... XD

    1. Oh, I know you're a plotter! You plot so Nicholas and Coco stay apart! You sneaky, girl! :)

      How can you figure out everything?? What if the story take you somewhere else?

    2. I let the characters play around in my head a lot before I ever draw the first strip. (Coco and Nicholas did this for a good chunk of 2012, LOL.) Once I have a basic idea of the plot and characters, I start drawing random art so I can get to know them better. This is when my characters can throw curveballs my way that may ultimately become canon and shape the story.

      Like, my first pic of Nicholas and Coco? Nicholas decided to be a redhead while I colored it, instead of raven-haired like I had planned. This is also when I discovered he loves to cook, since an apron was the only thing I could think to make him wear at the time...haha.

      I could probably get more detailed, but long story short, I just doodle like crazy and let things stir around in my head until they settle into something cohesive. XD

      Even though this has worked for me so far, I must admit that changes still happen sometimes. They're few and far between, though. Like, the only major change that's happened while posting EE is Payne leaving. I originally planned for him to stick around. But I realized Coco and Nicholas would've died during volume two if that happened, so away he needed to go, LOL. Everything else is like how I plotted it back in 2012, though, and the end I thought of then is still in place.

    3. Wow, this...ended up being longer than I intended. LOL. Sorry. XD

    4. I let the characters play around in my head too, but if I let them there too long, then I get stuck. I need to write it out of my head.

      Wow! The story is like you plotted back in 2012? Congrats, Heather! :)

      Btw, your answer is not long, is perfect.