The more i write, the more i realizehow much i love world building and character development. My problem is i cant come up with a good plot to save my life. Any advice?! Please help!
Plot is where I also fall down. I’m not even so much about the world building, I just love characters and how people interact, so I have to actively force myself to write plot.
The way I do it is to break it up into really, really simple things. I think I’ve posted how I structure my novel plans, but this is basically it:
(Sorry for all the blanks, but there’s no way in hell I am letting key plot elements out)
Now, if you’re thinking, but Joy, that’s just a scrap of paper with single descriptor lines numbered together, yes, you’d be correct. I cannot map out plot in any other way, I’ve tried, but this is how my brain apparently works.
All I know is I need to get from A to Z and I know there are scenes I want to include, so I write the scenes, then fit out where in the alphabet of my novel they fit. I number them, and then I fill in the blanks and connect everything together so that the start, the middle, the catalyst and the resolution all meet up, and then once I have this vague road map of where I’m going, I try and stick to it as much as possible while I write the thing into a whole. Sometimes the plan changes, and that’s okay, but mostly it gives me a sense of direction with where I am going towards something.
I like having my Point of Conflict mapped out clearly, so that I know where I am heading. And I’ll be honest, my plot is not unique. There is a start, a source of conflict, some comedic and romantic relief in between with oodles of world and character development until there is A Not Good Thing Which Causes More Conflict, and then there is The Resolution followed by more Character Stuff.
And that’s it. That is how I write and god help you if you can figure it out because some days I barely can. I guess the point I am making is, your plot doesn’t need to be complex. What’s the theme of your story, how does it start? Write that down as a one liner. What happens next? Write that down.
To give you an idea of how that would look, for most coming of age fantasy novels, it would look like this:
>Be at home on farm. Lament life on farm. >Visit Market with Friends. >Get into hijinks which establish Character Dynamics. >Hear a rumor at market about war, be certain it will never come to you. >Wake up in middle of night to find farm on fire, the war is here and it has most definitely found you. >Parents die, run off with pseud-parental figure who seems to know a lot about you. >Realize adventuring is fucking awful. >Discover you were adopted and feel confused/betrayed??? >Get in fight with dark ancient evil that tells you Things. >Lose hand as a metaphor for lost innocence.
>Several thousand words later: >APPARENTLY YOU ARE KING NOW SO GOOD LUCK WITH THAT
And that is…that’s pretty much every popular fantasy story since Tolkein. But it’s the worlds and characters that keep us coming back for more. So your plot? Your plot doesn’t need to be original, there is at this stage, no new ideas. Only interesting and well executed ones, and that’s what you want to aim for.
So don’t stress over things just yet. Get yourself a vague map, and then see where it takes you. Not everyone knows where they are going when they start out writing.
One thing you should know about me is I have an obsession with John Green. I think he is one of the most brilliant and incredible people on this planet, I do feel bad about this since that’s an awful lot of pressure to put on someone, especially someone who spends a lot of time writing about the dangers of making a person into more than a person and forgetting that they shit and fart and sleep and exist outside of this role we place them in in our hero worship. But I can’t help it, I read his books and watch hank and John blog together and I can’t help but think if the world were full of more Johns and Hanks world suck levels would significantly decrease and to me that’s a pretty good reason for someone to be your hero. So John Green is my hero and that’s how that works. It’s also worth mentioning that Hanks green has ulcerative colitis, you may or may not be aware that I too have this shitty disease, in fact I am now as of today (the 13th of October) on my 23rd day in hospital because of it and have only just been told that I will more than likely leave in a week with my colon still inside my body, something that was not guaranteed to me yesterday. You would think that news is the best thing that happened to me today? You would be wrong. You see my mother with the help of my boyfriend bought me Turtles All The Way Down today and there is nothing the doctors could have told me that could compete, even that I get to go home soon and that I get to keep my organs. John Green has once again searched inside my brain and pulled out all the things I have ever felt and put them into words. I’ve had OCD as long as anyone can remember, it was joined by a whole host of other mental health problems as a got older but that’s a story for another day because OCD has always been the first. John Green also happens to suffer from this stupid and irrational disorder and so does the protagonist of his newest book. I felt like my soul was being shown to me. I’ve gotten much better over the years and at 19 I’ve got a pretty firm grasp on my mental health but reading this was like being taken back to when I didn’t, back to when everyday was a struggle for control over my own thoughts. I never like to comment on books accuracy when they are outside of my own experience but I can honestly say this book captured my ordeal with obsessive compulsive disorder so clearly I cried. John Green is such an incredible author, he pulls the thoughts right out of my head in a way I never could and puts them into words I could never find. Without his books I don’t think I would be where I am today or have as strong a grasp on my mental health as I do. I honestly don’t know if I can say I would be here today without his books. This is a really personal review because to me John Green books are personal, they were with me for every hospital admission, every low moment and high, I read and reread them and they helped me make sense of the mess inside my head. I finished this book in one sitting, it took a couple hours and I was trying to go slow but I just couldn’t stop, I now plan to start all over again as soon as I finish this review. All I can say is I love this book. I love it and it was worth the wait and I need everyone in the world to read it because if John Green has had this much of a positive effect on me and my life I can’t be the only one. Who I recommend this book to: every single person on this planet and those who aren’t. I give this book a gold rose 🥀 because it is one of the best books I have ever read. The feeling you get when reading a John Green book is like no other.
Ps I wrote this a day ago and yes I have already read it again