Please welcome Janice Hardy as our guest today. Janice is the award-winning author of The Healing Wars trilogy and the Foundations of Fiction series, including Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure, a self-guided workshop for planning or revising a novel, the companion Planning Your Novel Workbook, Revising Your Novel: First Draft to Finished Draft and the upcoming Understanding Show, Don’t Tell (And Really Getting It). Janice is also the founder of the writing site, Fiction University. For more advice and helpful writing tips, visit her at Fiction University, Twitter, and Facebook.
Plotting is one of my favorite aspects of writing, but it can be hard for some writers. I’ve found that plotting a novel you don’t plan to write can help someone learn to plot without the stress of “messing up” their novel.
***Win a 10-Page Critique From Janice Hardy***
Three Books. Three Months. Three Chances to Win.
To celebrate the release of my newest writing books, I’m going on a three-month blog tour–and each month, one lucky winner will receive a 10-page critique from me.
It’s easy to enter. Simply visit leave a comment and enter the drawing via Rafflecopter. At the end of each month, I’ll randomly choose a winner.
A Ten-Step Guide to Plotting a Practice Novel
Plotting is a vital skill for writers, but it’s something that’s difficult to teach. Every novel is different, and every writer has a different process for how they write that novel. It’s hard to learn the necessary skills while working on a novel you care about, since you might not be willing to change an element you love to fit a conceptual plot point.
But you can practice plotting.
Plotting a novel without the pressure of a story you love allows you to get creative, because none of it matters. There are no beloved characters with pages of backstory to consider. There are no worlds to develop before you can start. There’s no fear that the idea has been done or that an agent, editor, or reader won’t like it.
You can plot whatever you want until you get the hang of plotting, and then use those skills to plot the novel you want to write.
Step One: Choose an Idea
Use an idea you have, but doubt you’ll ever write, turn on the TV and pick the first story idea you come across, or choose the premise of a random book in your favorite genre. Since you’re not going to write this novel, it doesn’t matter what the idea is or where it comes from. It just needs to be something you’ll have fun with. Aim for an external problem, such as catching a killer, stopping a deadly virus, or getting two people to go out on a date. External problems give you external goals to plot with.
Once you pick an idea, summarize it in one paragraph or less. [Read more…]