Plan Your Novel in 30 Days Or Less! | Kay C. Brannon | Skillshare

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Plan Your Novel in 30 Days Or Less!

teacher avatar Kay C. Brannon, Writer. Creative.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Intro: So you want to write a novel?

    • 2. Lesson 1: Tools and Ideas

    • 3. Lesson 2: Characters

    • 4. Lesson 3: Setting

    • 5. Lesson 4: Scene

    • 6. Lesson 5: Plot

    • 7. In Conclusion: Start writing!

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About This Class

Writing a novel can seem like a monumental task when staring at the blank page. However, even when you decide to create an outline, it's hard to know where to begin. After all, the outline is the place where you create your world and allow your characters to take shape and gain personalities. In this class, I'll share with you my techniques to create novels that have led me to win National Novel Writing Month every year since 2011 and get several stories from idea to published work. If you’ve ever had a story idea, my class can help you bring it to life! Grab your favorite writing instrument - we're getting your novel planned in the next 30 days!

Whether you are just getting started or have been working on stories for years, join me in exploring another way of planning a novel!

Meet Your Teacher

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Kay C. Brannon

Writer. Creative.


Hello, I'm Kay. I'm an author-publisher working on historical fiction and urban fantasy (and quite often mixing the two). I love pen and paper and discovering what worlds I can create with it. You can find me hanging out on Instagram @writeswithravens! 

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1. Intro: So you want to write a novel?: This is K and I am a writer of urban historical fantasies and basically a lot of stories about shifters and other types of creatures and also historical fiction from time to time. And I'm here because I want to share with you my method that helps me get everything together so that I can get my stories done and stay on track. You're here because you want to write a novel. A novel is a huge process, and it can take months, possibly even years. And sometimes it's hard to go from that kernel of the idea that you had once to the final product. So what this class is going to be all about is how to start with a character driven outline that will keep you on track and how you can work on that in just a few minutes per day and have a whole lot line in a month. So whether you're doing nanowrimo, which I have done quite a few times or are just embarking on your own creative project, you will have your guide map. You will have created your characters. You'll have given them a setting, and you'll have created a loose narrative plot that is still going to have flexibility in case you get a surprise while your writing and your character's decide to surprise you and you can go from graphs like God Drops in here and in these notebooks manuscripts edit to a final product, whether you are planning to publish or you're just writing for the fun of it, so let's get started. 2. Lesson 1: Tools and Ideas: something to remember when you're sitting down to work on your novel is that you're becoming an artist just like a painter needs paint. A sculptor needs clay. We writers have our own tools as well. Unlike other kinds of artists are medium is words. The words could be laid down in a variety of ways. This lesson is gonna go over a few. The needs is a writer at its heart are really simple. So what do you need? I personally like to plan and drop sections of my novels the way novelists been doing it since the invention of the novel writing utensils of paper, analog old school. This is the basic requirement the writer you can get started with an analog or old school set up at really limited costs. Likely you already have these tools at your disposal. It can, of course, also get more elaborate. I myself from a pen and paper nerd in the fountain pen and stationery hobby. So I tend to prefer fountain pens with funding, said higher quality paper. However, that's completely not necessary. You could go with a dime store pencil and a ream of paper you get during the back to school sale or even a pad of paper that you've got sitting in your closet Really, anything that you can write on. If you prefer using technology, any text input system is going to get you started. There are a lot of options out there, some built specifically for long form writers like novelists. When I sit down to type of my handwritten work or I'm typing because I'm on a time crunch, I like to use the program. Scrivener. If you've participated in National novel writing month challenges at all, you've probably seen their name is one of the sponsors. They often offer a free trial during the event and a discounted purchase price. If you win or participate, got a bit of a learning curve, but it helps me keep track of my scenes. Before that, I often used free APS on my phone with an external keyboard. I've used word I've used Google docks, so it's a really good resource, really anything that you can type things out in. This is the key. Take away whether it's riding my hand or typing. You really just want to find whatever method is gonna motivate you to get the story and get the ideas from your brain into a format where someone else can read it. If you like dictation, that's also a valid form of writing pretty much anything that gets it from your brain to something that someone can read. All right, so you've got your tools in hand. But maybe you don't have an idea for your novel quite yet or only a partial concept. So what do you do? There are a lot of ways to brainstorm, and I encourage you to try out several to find one that works for you often try out new ones to see if I can get my brain thinking in any way. You're three methods that I use pretty often to generate an organized ideas method. One stream of consciousness. I often start with this one because it's my favorite. I love lying Down Inc. And this is a method that lays down a lot of it. Stream of consciousness writing lets you flex your creative muscles. The first thing you want to do is set a timer for a block of time. It could be 5 10 15 up to 30 minutes. I don't usually go longer than that, because I personally start to lose Focus. Turn on that countdown. And don't stop your hand from writing or your fingers from typing until the timer goes off . Even if you have no idea what you want to write, the act of writing can often dredge up ideas from your brain. For example, you could start out writing the words. I don't know what I want to write about, but I was speaking and then keep going. You'll often get launched into an idea or right through what's giving you trouble When the timer goes off, read over what you wrote and pull out the good stuff. I haven't keep mine in an idea notebook to revisit when I'm feeling stuck. Some of those ideas will never get used, but the ones that stick with me often become short stories or novels method to mind nothing . So another way of planning is this mind map method. There are lots of different versions of this, but this is my version. Basically, you start off with a central thought or a topic and bridge from there, so you need a large sheet of paper. Example. Mind that may start off of the words forbidden romance. And from there I'll make branches about why, who the central characters are, where the story is set. Basically, you're going to move from larger contacts to smaller ones. If you're doing a mind map on paper, make sure you have a large enough sheet or prepared to put several sheets together for computers and tablets. There are a lot of options out there, some more flexible than others. I've experimented with quite a few of them, and scalpel by scrivener seems to be a pretty flexible one for me. My mapping is definitely something I like to do by hand and then begin crafting my outline from those notes. So here's the example of a beginning of a mind map. You can see that as it stretches out further, the ideas go for big ones. Too much more focused concepts. I often ask myself questions at the early stages and will either branch off with additional questions or answer them for myself. This often help spur even more ideas and helps me to still what aspects of the story I'm really interested in, which really helps to fuel the writing later. It's a one last month that I'm gonna share with you is making lists. The Lord of mind mapping making lists is a way of organizing your ideas and distilling them down to what you're getting ready to write. I like starting a list with an idea for the world or an idea for a character. Begin by writing a sentence about your idea and then start making the bullet points that come after it. If you need to use a timer, keep you focused. So here's an example I started off of. The concept of a girl is alone in your 70 national park. The world's ended. Why, oh, a supernatural event ended Human civilization. Well, how does that work? Oh, people who could turn into animals survived it, so on and so forth, and I started building the world around. My very big concept it's very assignment for this round is I want you to share your story idea in the class comments. This could be an idea you're going to use for the rest of your class project or could be one you've come up with and want to kind of put up for story adoption. I know that sharing your ideas can be intimidating, but it's a great way to get encouragement from other authors. Also, one of the great things about writing is that two writers can start from the exact same premise and come up with completely different stories. It's one of those amazing quirks of creativity. In our next lesson, we're going to be working on creating well rounded characters that come to life and drive the pot. See you there. 3. Lesson 2: Characters: In our last lesson, we focused on how to distill in select ideas for novels. Now that we have those ideas in hand, we could move on to developing our main characters by starting with the characters. You'll sure their plot unfolds in a logical way, driven by the choices and actions of the characters. Character driven fiction is often the most popular type of fiction, since we can really grow along with the characters as they go on their journey. No matter of the genre, it really allows the story to take shape around their goals and choices. It often six with the reader longer where all people on journeys. So we want to follow characters that are on journeys. In addition, it makes the plot more authentic, inhuman. Even if our commune characters aren't human by making it about their choices and where they're going and letting those choices and those actions drive the plot, it really moves us forward throughout the story. Now, before we get into my list of topics that I cover in character creation, I just want to point out that there is a lot of character creation tips out there and to be honest. Most of them are completely overwhelming to me. Many of them, in my opinion, won't way too much information Before I could get into my story. Those little moments will come up during the course of this story creation, such as, like a favorite color or what happened on their fifth birthday. I don't like going into the really in depth ones because it doesn't leave a lot of room for discovery during the writing process, something I want you to keep in mind throughout this class and even when you sit down to write, is that. Think of your outline as a work in progress. Amend it, tweak it, really do it any point when you discomfort something new in the story, especially if it creates a big change. This actually happens to me quite often, and having a living outline allows me to easily find a way to work it into the tail or possibly change the ending. All right, let's get started on what we've all been waiting for, breathing life into our characters throughout the following slides. I'm going to use one of my own characters as an example in some cases to illustrate points the first step is giving your character name a name already tells you a lot about a character. It gives the reader glimpse into what world they're entering, whether it's a fantastical world, a certain culture, a certain or a certain time period. My example. Character's name is Thomas Kelly. He's an American columnist living dirty during the American Revolution. There is a bit of a twist to the story, which will come up more in setting when I continue to use. The story is an example, but first off, his last name reveals an Irish ancestry, and Thomas was a common name at that time period. A good research to use if you're not sure what you want to name, your character is behind the name dot com. They actually have a name generator, and sometimes even baby naming websites are really great for inspiration after the character is named choosing age or age range and begin describing what they look like. I knew I wanted Thomas to be young, but not quite a child. He ended up being 19 years old but actually didn't know that until he'd met some of the other characters in the book at the outlining stage. I just written late teens early twenties. I also tend to keep my general descriptions pretty simple, covering things like height, hair color, eye color, skin tone, etcetera. It helps me keep track of what color Harry gave them halfway through the story when I want to use that quality again and end up actually switching their eye color, which happens more often than I care to admit. But it's show me also many times that I accidentally made a bunch of my characters to similar. I had to go back and add some more details. They each have individuality. Often it's like I have a lot of characters with brown hair. For example, they're gonna need another character defining tree of visual appearance in order to be different, or depending on how your story in your world works. It could also be like a sound or a smell, different things that give them individuality. The next one is what does your character like to wear? How do they dress for historical fiction like mine? This is really important to research because there's nothing that will throw a reader out of the story faster than someone using a zipper before they were even invented. Even for contemporary or SciFi. Fantasy clothing often define what cultures characters belonged to possibly their class and definitely how they like to present themselves. Is this person kind of a slacker? Is this person always done up? And we'll dress so that if they are wearing sweat pants and a T shirt, it's going to surprise the other characters? Little aspects like that are really important for kind of giving the reader kind of an insight into the characters choices. Another one is How did they talk? What do they sound like to both the reader and the other characters in order to get at this often right out some mock dialogue of characters talking to one another? And this is super important because as authors, sometimes we don't realize how much our characters end up sounding exactly like we do. And so if we have a cast of 10 people and they all talk the same way, it's not gonna sound riel or be that engaging for the reader because it sounds like one person having a conversation with themselves, and I know we have a lot of voices are head hence, that's why we right? You know, we have all these characters in there, but they each need to have their individual voice, especially if you're writing from a first person perspective. This is going to extend how the character sinks and seize their world. It's really their voice. So figuring that out, do they contract to their sentences? Do they use a lot of slaying? All of these aspects will give them kind of a well rounded sense of being. This one, I think, is really important. And it's kind of describing What are their scars? Do they have physical scars, psychological scars, cause it really gives us an insight into the character. A psychological scar could be something like they were betrayed by a lover in the past. And so, especially if it's a romance. They're having trouble trusting this new person that they're in a romantic relationship with is this person into extreme sports and broke their ankle climbing one time and has a large scar on her ankle from the surgery. It gives a lot more character details. For example, for Thomas, my character, his scar was psychological. He'd felt lied to his entire life. It turns out he was kind of lied to throughout the story. And so he has a really hard time trusting people and feeling a part of a family because he feels that his family had failed him and it drives him throughout the plot. And so sometimes the scars can just be like a visual thing. But usually, even if you never tell in the story, like what that scar is on their cheek, it is in forming the character in some way. And it's something you, as the author should know. Even if you never told the reader, what is the character's skills? What are they get at? This could be related to their job, a role in their community? Or it could be something else. For example, if you're writing an action story, the characters probably going to have a weapon specialty of some kind. Are they good with a handgun but are terrible with a rifle in a romance? Maybe the character could do something like make balloon animals, and this comes up when there's a problem with the balloon animals at the restaurant there at and the character goes and makes balloon animals for the Children and it makes their love interests like them even more. Those are just a few examples, just like we each have our own talents. Characters will have their own talents, so be sure to give them at least one or two, regardless of whether it's unemployment or not. Knowing what your character does in their life is pretty important. It could be employment Base likes being a doctor, bookseller, shopkeeper, a waitress, an assassin. It could also be something more abstract, like the heir to the kingdom or a stay at home parent or a landowner or park ranger Could be any of these different kinds of jobs. And so, no matter what time, period or world you're creating, the character will need something to Dio. It helps build their plot along the way, and and they end up being central to it, depending on what kind of story you're planning on telling. So the mood at the beginning of the story, knowing and your character's mood will help get the stories tone set and get the character moving in their world. Often you want the character to be a little unsatisfied with their life. Otherwise, why would they go on a jury. If they do happen to be satisfied, what is going to need to happen to make them unsatisfied and send them out into this adventure? In Thomas's case, he was suspicious about his world but afraid to go deeper for fear of losing the new home he built for himself. So within the plot, I had to challenge that fear to get him moving in. His story from the pretty famous example is Bilbo Baggins was just living his life in the Shire. And then one day a whole bunch of war showed up on his doorstep, and he's now on this adventure so it could be something pretty dramatic or it could be something small. It's going to kind of get at the inciting incident of your story when we get to plot. Kind of similar to the mood is how is your character going to appear in the story for a central character of the story? This is gonna happen on the opening page. You'll present to your character to the reader and give them a feeling about this person. Are they nice friendly jerk, someone dangerous? Someone unsure someone who is confident, etcetera in his story. Thomas appears in the course of doing his job and worrying about the things that are changing around him. He's uncertain. So when he runs into someone who is going to change his life, the reader wants to follow him to see if he'll take that chance for additional main characters or major secondary characters. You'll want to consider how both the main character and the reader will react to this newcomer the first time they're introduced. What does your character do for fun? Do they have any hobbies? I always choose at least one for each character, because it could be surprising how it'll come up in the story. It could be a moment where Love Interest discovers the main characters notebook collection , and they bond over their love of paper. Or it could be in a magic story that they're weaving spells in their spare time and that spell gets out of hand. It's really an opportunity for subplots, or moments will really get readers more connected with the characters. What is their family story? This dynamic of the character is often really important and how they form relationships or have relationships within the story, regardless of whether it's ah romance, story or not, friendships and everything else could be defined by the characters. Experience growing up, Ah, characters, family chosen or biological or whether they don't have a family at all says a lot about who they become prior to the story, even beginning my character. Thomas has a really bad relationship with this family, and, in fact he had run away from them before the story began. Later in the story. In this plot, he has a revelation of why his relationship was so bad with them. When he learns more about the supernatural elements of his world, he's used to not having a trust between him and the people he cares about, so he doesn't know what to do with the vulnerability that happens to him when his relationship with one of the other characters, in contrast, there were other characters that did get along with their families, and it really shaped how they interacted with those they've adopted. I often use a section to name parents, siblings, close friends, basically people who have impacted the character throughout their lives, and how those relationships have shaped this character in kind of a similar vein, going over the back story and major moments before the story begins is really helpful to know what's gonna need to happen in the story, to get character from who they are at the beginning to who they are at the end. This does not need to be a novel. Sometimes folks insists that you need pages and pages of back story. Honestly, I often just put some bullet points down. And from short descriptions is really just something to refer back Teoh when a character is presented with a new situation and helps me determine how they're gonna react. So, for example, if a character I'm writing a romance story and the character was betrayed by their past lover, that's really gonna matter a lot if there's a situation that arises where they're suspicious of their new lover. So I have to make sure that I remember that because if they're super trusting of this person that they're just getting involved with, it's not gonna ring. True to the reader, this question kind of relates toe of the entire character description is where is your character going If they do not go on the journey of the story, What will they continue to dio do use a kind of famous example? Say Harry Potter did not get his letter to go to Hogwarts. The dirt sleaze were successful in keeping the letter from him, and something happened. Hagrid along the way, and basically he never knew that he was a wizard. He would've probably gone to that school that the jerseys were going to send him to, and his teenagers would have been entirely different. Or he would have entered the wizarding world from a completely different place. So the story that followed after that one event was really different for my character, Thomas. He would have just stayed living his life, knowing something wasn't quite right in his world, but more or less blissfully unaware of any supernatural elements and the world he actually belonged to. His journey was necessary to become who he needed to be kind of similar to the back story. I try to keep this short wonder two sentences. It helps me know and help think about what the inciting incident, what's the situation is gonna be and what needs to be changed in this character's life. By the end of the plot, onto your excitement. So you're signing for this section of the class is to get started on a character description. There's a link to a Google drive document that will has all these elements in there, and you can go ahead and use that. Fill it out, copy and paste it into your class project. And if you get a chance, be sure to comment on your classmates work and give them some feedback on their character. If you're planning your novel in 30 days, use the 1st 5 to create your characters. Go ahead and spend time with each one. Usually you don't want to go too big with too many main characters. But at least focus on getting your main characters and maybe some major secondary characters that you think you're gonna appear quite often. It will help you set the stage for after we go through our process of setting, which is gonna be the next lesson, creating the setting and building a world around our characters. All of those things will help us when we get to the end of the pot. See in the next lesson 4. Lesson 3: Setting: Now that you have your characters, you probably already have a beginning sense of your stunning. After all, the characters don't exist in a vacuum. They're defined by the places where they grew up and where they spend their time. Over the next few days, while you're working on your outline, I want you to focus on building the settings to create a sense of integrity So your readers junket lost in the process. It's a lesson three setting. What exactly is setting at its simplest, a setting is where the scene is taking place. It's the characters house, school. It's a castle. It's a forest. It's a battlefield. It's in space. It's wherever the action is taking place. In essence, the setting is just the space the characters air moving through. There are several omens to building the setting. One of them is spatial orientation. Here's a map I drew of the bookshop in my character Thomas's story. It helped me keep track of where things were in the space so that when I was describing it , I was consistent and where people entered, exited and where they can interact with different objects. As you can see, I'm not that great a drawing, hence the labels. But even the rough sketch helps. If it's a larger area like an entire fantasy world. Ah, map or wider description can really help you keep track of how far it is between the towns or where the characters are meeting up. Say the character is in a fantasy story and your made up a world and you have the good of the market. It takes, um, a certain amount of time. If you don't keep track of where the market is, your character could end up on a whole nother journey later in the story. So just kind of a way to keep track as we move through the other parts of craft in the setting. Remember that, Just like your characters. Your outline is an evolving document. It doesn't need to be fully complete before you start your story. This document is really where you're storing the information that you can add to while you're writing. Go for the broad strokes when creating your setting. The story itself is often going to create the finer details, So from the spatial area, you want to make some short descriptions of what the place looks like. What are the sights? This doesn't have to be all encompassing. Sometimes I will even leave space in my notebook outline toe Addison. As I write that way, the paint on the wall doesn't go from blue toe white to green. Throughout the story, it stays consistent. Is there a photograph of the characters and mother to the left of the photograph of their little brother? It's just important to make a few notes of visual markers. Comeback Teoh When you're creating your stories that you don't end up with mixed the details of mixed messages, it was actually famously kind of awkward and film sometimes where they'll do a scene cut. But someone came onto the set and moved to some things. On one scene there's a pot of flowers, but then they took it away, and it's not there. Even though the story is consistent, the scene is not so. Something to keep in mind is what is your reader imagining another one is. What does the setting sound like? Is it a forest? If so, what kind? What sort of birds live there? Are they in a city? What does the street sound like? New York New York setting in 1700 is going to sound way different than a New York setting in present day. We're very reliant on our five senses, and addressing them in the story is gonna help immerse your reader, helping only see the place. But here it from sounds we can build on other senses as well. Smell has been an important aspect of several of my stories. Since the main characters are often also animals. They see their world as much through smell as by sight, even if the characters air completely. Human food is often a connecting small for readers center the characters world. If you're describing the way an apple pie smells or the way of flower smells or an exotic scent that maybe the reader doesn't know about something from a culture they might not be familiar with, or it's a completely made up smell. Give them some Touchstones. What is this place smelling like? I really like thinking about this one when I'm crafting the story, since it makes me more conscious of the world around me, what does My apartment's not like my workplace, my neighborhood. It's something that doesn't always immediately come to mind while writing for me, but it definitely adds another dimension to the story. When I sit down to create it. Taste is a little bit tricky. It's similar to smell and is that it often appears and stories related to food. It can also come from other elements of the environment. Smoke, leather paper often mixed up with the smoke. I usually don't spend a lot of time on the sense in the first round of outlining, but I'll make notes of it throughout the story writing process. I put touch and feelings together. What does the space quote unquote feel like? Both literally and figuratively, is a floor made of wood covered in carpet? Is there a frayed patch that the characters get a trip over throughout the story? Does it feel homey, hostile? Strange? Make a few notes? Would be sure to keep track while you're working on the actual novel, because these literal Touchstones can come back Teoh matter in ways that you don't expect even during this stage of planning. Another thing that I keep in mind when I'm working on setting is seen theme as it relates to setting is kind of a smaller version of your stories Overall theme. Now not every setting is going to have something like this. A bus station can just be a bus station. Sometimes, however, places like the characters home or a place where a lot of the action happens well, often grow its own character in and of itself. Is this a place the character comes back to when everything is going wrong? Was this where the story took off in The character is nostalgic about it because they met someone or did something important? Does the setting carry more weight than others? I usually only make a few notes about this. It gives me around her sense of what I'm trying to use that space to dio. If I can have a seen happen in a hallway versus a living room, why would I choose one over the other? Thomas's story, for example, takes place a lot in the forest. There's a clearing that they go to quite a lot. The woods in this sons have a theme of freedom. Things happen there in that clearing that cannot happen anywhere else in the story. Due to the parameters that I've set up your assignment for the section is to add a description of one setting to your class project. Be sure to check in on your cost mates work and provide feedback on their progress. In the next lesson, we're going to be preparing for the story and thinking about Seen and the stories progression are also known as the plot see in the next lesson. 5. Lesson 4: Scene: When I get to the stage of seen planning, I like to think of it as proto or pre plotting I address seen in my outline in a more general sense than some other writers do. As you've probably noticed throughout this class, I like to use my outline like a set of guide posts. The writing is really what's going to fill in some of the blanks. Hence, I do not create an outline, the go scene by scene. So what exactly do I mean by seeing planning a scene in a story can be long or short. It really depends on what is happening. While the plot is the overall arc of the story, the scene is what gets the characters from point A to point B and all the stops along the way. The first step in the entire scene and plot process is trying to narrow down what you are trying to do with the story. I've heard this call the elevator pitch, the tagline. Basically, it's getting your plot down toe. One sentence, which forces you to focus on the main threat of your story. What is the absolute heart of your story since this is going into your outline. This does not need to even be a good sentence. For example, by one sentence. Pot for Thomas's story. WAAS In the midst of a pack rebellion, Ah, young shifter discovers that the politics of wolves can be just as dangerous as humans. It was that journey of discovery that I was sending Thomas on. There's a lot more that happens in the story, but at the heart of it, he's going on a journey to find out who he is. Going from. The one sentence pot often make bullet points of the subplots. These are things that will be going on with other characters. Romance arcs. Basically anything I thought about, including, along with the main story, are feel free to put all of the ideas you've had down on the page. It's not time to sort through them yet. Let your imagination soar bit. You will be reining it back in later. Another key piece, The scenes in the overall plot is going to be pinning down your main character's motivations. What is it that they want? Often, most stories will have two layers to character motivation. Characters will have an external goal for example, get the magical, shiny object. They will also have an internal goal. What is driving them toe? Want that extra nickel? Do they think finding the treasure is gonna bring stability to their lives? Do they think that falling in love is going to solve all their problems? What is really driving that desire for their external goal? With something characters, I figure this one out really fast. With others, I have to begin peeling back the layers. It really helps to go back and look at your character outlines to get at the heart of their motivation without a motivation. Your story is just a collection of this happened then that happened. Then this other thing happened with motivation. Your character's driving to get what they want or discovering that what they thought they wanted isn't actually what they needed. There are two assignments for this lesson. Wanted to share your plot in one sentence in your class project or in the class. Comments also up to your project to include one of your main character's motivations. Feel free to bounce ideas off each other in the class comments. Sometimes a second opinion is really gonna help those ideas flow in our next lesson, we're going to be diving deep into how to craft the narrative plot that is going to help keep you on track while riding, but also still give you space to expand your story even as it's being written. See you in the next lesson. 6. Lesson 5: Plot: It's the moment we've all been waiting for. We're finally getting to one of my favorite parts, actually potting the novel over the course, the rest of your novel planning. You've actually been gathering all the elements that you're going to need to put the story together. This is where you're going to make decisions about what to include, what have in the subtext and what the general thrust of your story is going to be. The first step to planning is one of my favorites. I set aside a block of time, get a fresh document on my computer, fresh page of my notebook, and I just right. I go through the entire story as it exists in my head as I've been planning, I was chewing on these ideas as I designed my characters and discovered their homes through setting. I got even closer when I was considering my scenes at this stage in the planning process. This is where I let my imagination go to town, try to get your entire plot down from start to finish, beginning middle and end in one city. Sometimes this takes a little longer than the other days of planning. It is possible to get slow down or stuck. It points in this narrative plot draft. When I get stuck, I just put some filler or put down the word. Something happens here that gets the character to out of towards. And then I come back to it later. And sometimes just the act of starting a sentence gets me to an idea of how they're going to get there, similar to when you were brainstorming at the bidding of this process. Don't stop typing. Don't stop moving your pen or pencil. Get it all out. Don't worry about potholes. Will be fixing those in the next step. If you're finding yourself really getting stuck, it might be because the idea is not working. One of the big benefits to working with the narrative plot outline is that you're going to catch the story problems long before you're 20,000 words into the novel and realize that you made a big mistake at the beginning and that's OK. I've had to posit my narrative outlined before and start over. I'm way happier about doing it in this stage. Then, after on 3/4 of the way through a novel and going Oh, no, I never set this up back in the first act. Once you thought your entire plot down, spend some time reading it over and mark out where there are Miss connections. Also known as finding the potholes. Was something a big deal at the beginning of the story, and then it disappeared. Well, big note of that, because you're going to have to make a decision about it. You're either going to have to decide to carry it through the restless story and thus a mender narrative outline. Or you're going to need to cut it out before you ever begin writing. An example with Thomas's story is that I had a much larger subplot in my first draft of my outline about his brother. As I wrote through, I realized there was a way too much going on that was going to kind of push that subplot way further down the wrong. It still exists in the final version of the story, however, it's no longer front and center. He does not worry about his brother nearly as much as he will in a later book. In the series. After you've got your plot holes in there, and you've kind of made note of them, and you've put in places to fix them. Go back through your narrative outline again and start looking for plot twists. Make note of the ones you have, because that will help you remember to foreshadow them while you're riding. If you don't have any plot to us so you can identify, you're going to have to make another decision. Does your story need a plot twist that's really going to depend on your stories? Genre? For example, in an action adventure novel, a plot twist, it's pretty typical in a romance novel. It's not necessary but often happens anyway. You're gonna have to figure out where it needs to fit and how you want to approach this zone. So we've got our first up near to plot. Find the potholes, find the plot twists. The next one is to make note of your story's climax. This is the place where all the moments of the stories add up to the big ending. The characters are no place where they can never go back to the way they were at the beginning of the story. It's a defeat of the bad guy It's the big decision that's made its opening the store. It's achieving their goal or discovering that their goal is not actually what they wanted. The climax is where all the rising action is coming to its inevitable conclusion. Your character is getting what they want or think they want. Why it's important to look for your climax in your narrative outline is you want to make sure that it's at the end of your narrative. If it's coming way too early, you're going to have to shift some events around or re evaluate your climax. Is this a true climax, or is it one of those kind of false rising actions? And more things are going to happen in the story so you won't treat it like a climax After that? You want to make sure that you have a resolution. You need to figure out how the story's gonna end. Often a resolution could be pretty short. Just a senior to that. It's gonna wrap up the story and set up the character, show their future again. When you're picking this out of your narrative outline, you want to make sure it's coming at the end, and that there is not a ton of it. The resolution is a conclusion to this segment of the tail and possibly the introduction to the next story. If you're writing a Siri's, basically it's the period of the story period, end of sentence resolution and the story. You do not want it to drag on forever. If you have a bunch of scenes, consider removing a few. And speaking of the resolution, is your story gonna be part of Siri's? Because at the end, in that resolution, you're gonna want to set up for what could be in the future. For example, Thomas's story was the introduction into a Siri's, where examined different characters that are introduced during the course of his book and then characters in the subsequent second book. I needed to keep out of mind while I was writing so I could make sure the readers would make connections to the side characters because they're gonna be a main character in the next story. Basically, I wanted them to be interested enough in them to read the next story, too. If you're not is going to be part of a Siri's, make sure you've included hints of the larger story arc within the story. They have somewhere to go when you're repeating this process. So usually stories in Siris are going to connect in some way. So you gotta have hints of that larger world that the later novels air going toe kind of sneak into. So now you've created your narrative outline, and you filled in those potholes. You've marked out. Your plot twists in your climax to a resolution. Basically, you're ready to start writing. You've got your characters, you've got their story. Now it's time to expand out into dialogue, actions, interactions, all of the bits of story until you've built a novel. There's really just one ingredient left, and it's believing in your story. You gotta believe in it and the novel it will become. You were the only one who is going to create the character's journey the way you envisioned . It's your tail. You're the one telling it, Go get started. Your assignment for this lesson is the share a little bit of your narrative pot, and to let at least one of your classmates know what makes you excited about their story. 7. In Conclusion: Start writing!: and that's all you need to get started on your novel. You've got it. Once you put these different pieces into practice, you're gonna end up with and outline, and you can start writing. Sometimes I even start writing in the middle of this process because the idea just comes to me and that's great. That's something completely do. There is no roll out there that says writers have to have the outline done before they start writing. So if at any point in this process, you get excited to get started, go for it. I really encourage you to share your ideas. Share parts of your outline if you feel comfortable in the class project and definitely encourage your fellow writers that they took that brave step to share some of their writing because I know it's scary to share some of your ideas and share your outline. If you want to hear more for me or see what I'm up to with my writing, be sure to check me out. Instagram at writes with Ravens, and I'd like to thank you very much for watching my class and I hope to see you again