From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, April 26, 2010

Filling Out A Plot

The past few days I have really been working on a budding story idea. I had the germ of an idea but I've been doing a few different things to help me expand it into a novel-length idea.

One thing I've been doing is skimming through my writing books and making sure my basic idea has all the necessary elements of a good story. I've been using Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. These have really helped me fill out my idea.

I've also tried going through the plotlines of other books or movies and seeing if there is anything in that story that strikes me or inspires me to add something to mine. A while ago I wrote about a game called Liebrary, and I've been using the plot summaries on those cards especially to get some ideas.

Checking the news can also help you discover the elements of your story that are missing. You may find interesting characters and plot points in your local newspaper.

What do you do to help expand your beginning idea?

Sarah Allen


  1. Nice post. For most of my novels, I daydream about them for a long time. Then I write the first draft. I sometimes do other prep work (character sheets and the rare outline) but often when it comes to first drafts I just write.

    I have the Breakout Novel book too. Got it not long ago. Haven't used it much yet, but it might become part of my development stage.

  2. Thanks for the comments! I have really enjoyed the Breakout Novel book. Maass has some good advice.


  3. It is a very personal road of creativity that writers travel and well demonstrated here. For me, a single idea, once captured in my thoughts, easily begins to spread out with supporting concepts to reinforce it in the guise of characters, settings and dialogue. All three interact to introduce, reinforce, and bring this original germ to a progressive resolution. In short, it all happens in my mind and I manipulate the characters and other literary vehicles to nurture, develop and evolve this singular core idea. Where does this original idea come from? Through environmental interaction that includes books we read, news that appears on TV and conversations with others.

  4. You have some very good points. Every writer has their own way of creating, and its just a matter of finding out what works best for you. Thanks for your helpful comments!



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