Monday, July 25, 2011

How To Plan A Novel (as ranted by me, on twitter)

The other night I was up on "the twitter", as they call it these days, and I got to thinking about how I write novels. Before knew it I was twittereeterating all about how to write a novel.
But some of you missed it! Because, like most normal human people-beings, you're not on "the twitter". So here is what I wrote, in a series of word-sneezes of no more than 140 characters:
OK, it's late so I'm going to tell you all how to write a novel. I should probably hashtag this stuff but I'd rather chew off my own face.

Don't waste time coming up with loads of that 'character' stuff. The illusion of character is created in the reader's mind. They join dots.
Your 'dots' are the tiny moments that SUGGEST huge character developments. Let the reader do the work for you. Just come up with the dots.
Work out your plot first. It will dictate exactly how characters need to react to make it coherent and believable, thus saving you work.
Plan your plot by starting with the ending, which you create by elimination & simple binary choices. Will the main character die? Yes or no.
Will he or she be happily in love? Yes or no.
Will he or she he maimed in any way? Yes or no.
Continue like this until you know that at the end of your story your main character will be, for example: alive, not in love, unmaimed etc
Then work out which of these things will be different at the start of the story. THERE MUST BE CHANGE.
There must be change because that's a law of Hollywood and you want Hollywood to turn your novel into a movie because nobody reads anymore.
Now take what you thought was your ending and PUT IT IN THE MIDDLE. Then come up with a better ending.
Time to connect things. How does your character get from how he is at the start to how he is in the middle then the end? THINGS HAPPEN.
When I say 'THINGS HAPPEN', there are actually ONLY 3 THINGS. You only need one of them, but clever stories use all three.
The 3 things that can happen: the world craps on your character; people near your character crap on your character; your character craps on himself.
Decide how one of those 3 things happens and how your character reacts. Your character must react by DOING SOMETHING he now NEEDS to do.
Your character must not react by just moaning. The thing that happens has caused a PRIMAL, BURNING NEED or DESIRE.
In his pursuit of that NEED or DESIRE, everything that could possibly get in the way MUST GET IN THE WAY.
And how he reacts to those obstacles is CHARACTER.
Now you may all have a STAR for paying attention. TWO STARS if you go and plan a novel. How to do the writing bit will be another night.

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