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Plotting: Doing the Hard Work First

Author: Vickie Britton

The Importance of a Good Plot Outline

Many writers waste precious time by not having a firm idea of a fiction novel's plot in mind before writing. They forge ahead and create a jumble of unrelated scenes and events that do not forward the action and,as a result, have no place in the final draft. - All of this good writing may go to waste! -

If a writer doesn't know where the novel's plot is leading beforehand, they are going to make a lot of unnecessary detours along the way. This waste of time can be avoided by spending a few days before the actual writing to construct a working plot outline.

- Does Having a Plot Outline Kill Inspiration?

Many writers may feel restricted by having to follow a plot outline. - True, much inspiration comes from exploration. - But without a plot outline, scenes may be written that do not further the plot or the action of the book, and even though they may be good scenes, they may end up being discarded. - Whole chapters may be written as a result of inspiration alone, which may have no real place in the book. -

- Creating a plot outline beforehand gives the writer a guide to go by. It is just as easy to write the creative scenes after developing a plot outline. - By knowing the key events of each chapter and getting the 'whole picture', in mind, the writer is better able to then create scenes that will have a place in the novel and will propel the action forward. - It is better to find out whether the material is going to fit beforehand than trying to patch it in later. -

How Detailed Does a Plot Outline Need to Be?

It is a good idea to imagine a novel in three parts, like a stage play. - Every novel has a specific beginning, middle and end. - The beginning of a novel will be concerned with the introduction of the characters and the major conflicts in the novel, the middle will be devoted to furthering the conflict and having the protagonist get deeper and deeper into trouble as a result of his or her actions. - The ending will lead up to and result in a satisfying conclusion.

Before writing a first draft, a writer should try to make a chapter-by-chapter account of events and plan where key love scenes, setbacks, and successes will occur. - Will they be in the first chapter? - Toward the middle of the book? - At the end? - The more a writer knows before ever starting that first draft, the stronger the book will be. - And having a strong plot outline will ensure that every scene written will have a place in the final draft.

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About the Author

Vickie Britton, along with her sister Loretta Jackson, is the author of over forty novels. The sisters have co-authored the Jeff McQuede High Country Mystery Series: Murder in Black and White, Whispers of the Stones, and Stealer of Horses. They have also written the eight-book archaeological Ardis Cole Mystery Series and the Pre-Columbian Treasure Series.

Both writers are drawn to western settings, which have provided a background for much of their work. The sisters are authors of the contemporary mystery Stone of Vengeance, and the western, Death Comes in Pairs. Their Luck of the Draw western series includes The Devil's Game, The Fifth Ace and The Wild Card.

Their ebook Fiction: From Writing to Publication is available in many formats..

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