This weeks post on novel writing is about the basic plot elements you need to get started on your novel. I’ve done it as a 3 minute vlog, and below that is an except on the topic from my book The Elements of Active Prose: WritingTips to Make Your Prose Shine
It’s amazing how many books I see that don’t have the basics of plot. We can be so familiar with our story that we don’t see the gigantic hole staring us in the face. A novel without a plot is not a novel at all, so we must check that before anything. When you first sit back and look at your story, ask yourself the following:
Who is my protagonist (main character)? If there is more than one main character, you still need to have one major one that the reader can follow and really get to know.
Are they introduced first? Introduce them straight up, so the reader knows immediately who the story is about.
What is my protagonist’s aim in this story? What is their task, the central problem they must solve? What must they achieve, solve, fix, or discover? If your protagonist has no clear aim or challenge, you don’t have a story. Their aim tells the reader what the story is about, and it should be clear to the reader by somewhere around the 15% mark. Leave it later than 25% of the way in and you’ll likely have lost readers. They might know who the story is about, but they won’t know what it’s about until you reveal the protagonist’s task.
Who or what is preventing them from achieving their aim? This is the all important antagonist. Without this, you also have no story, because you have no tension. A story about someone searching for a package is not enough—there has to be someone or something trying to prevent them from finding that package. The antagonist can be non-human, like a fear or physical terrain, but your work will be stronger if you have a person involved because people are unpredictable.
If you have these in place, you have the basics. ” Tahlia Newland. The Elements of Active Prose: WritingTips to Make Your Prose Shine
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