Writing a book is the easy part. The hard part is making sure that the plot you come up with can readers’ hearts and make them engage with both the characters and the storyline. You can sometimes get away with one or the other – relatable characters or a relatable storyline – but if you don’t manage either of them then it’s a sure-fire way to lose your readers’ attention.
The good news is that you don’t have to spend two years working on a book to figure out whether your plot is the best it can be. Instead, simply follow the eight steps that we’ve shared below.
The very first thing that you need to do when you get started with developing your plot is to carry out the necessary research. Everyone knows that the more realistic and “lively” the plot, the better it is. That’s why you can’t find a better plot based on real events. Refer to your experience. Try to remember some interesting, exciting, romantic or tragic moments in your life. Remember how you felt at that moment and what you thought. Most often, the personal experience of the author is a great plot for the book. You can also use someone else’s experience. If you have witnessed an interesting story that has strongly influenced you or the “participants” themselves, give it a go.
If in your memory there are no real interesting stories from which the excellent plot would turn out – do not worry. Not all writers are rich in life experience. Try to gather information. Probably, in your city, there is a large library where you can find almost everything you need.
Otherwise, if you’re writing historical fiction then you’ll need to research the specific period of time and understand social norms and mores. The good news is that sites and paper services like uk best essays and other writing services have plenty of sample essays on a variety of sources that can help you out, and Wikipedia can be surprisingly useful as a first port of call.
Draft character profiles
Creating character profiles for each of the characters in your story can be a great way to get to know them a little more before you start writing about them. Some authors even find images that can represent the characters so that they can refer back to them and build up a more comprehensive picture of them in their heads. Furthermore, many authors do not hide the fact that they were inspired by reading the works of outstanding masters of their genre. For example, the American writer Elizabeth George has always admired the work of Agatha Christie.
Another tip – carry a notebook with you. Divide the sheet into two parts and take note of all the minor details about the real person. Does your friend have a weird way to tie his hair when he’s embarrassed? Have you noticed how your brother complains about everything? Use this information to create your character.
Don’t make your main character perfect. Perfectionism will make your story less believable and uninteresting to the reader. Instead, use a combination of qualities that you have written on both sides of the paper to create the perfect character. However, the character must be 60% good and 40% bad.
Add character growth
Having characters is one thing, but if they’re the same at the end as they are at the start then they haven’t learned anything or changed along the way. Characters need to grow throughout the story for readers to empathise with them and to make them feel like real people. As human beings, we learn something new every day. The same should be true of your characters. Character development is perhaps one of the most important levers that help the reader to evolve a winning personality.
Play act as the characters
Playacting as your characters can help you to get into their heads even further and to make them feel more like real people. The best writers in the world often talk about how it feels as though their characters are acting under their own steam and making decisions of their own. When that happens, it’s because the characters are so fleshed out that they feel truly human.
Conflict is often what leads to character growth, and it’s also important to raise the stakes in your story to make it feel as though something’s actually at risk. If a character goes through a story without there being any conflict, it leaves it feeling as though the story is just happening to the characters, rather than as though they’re having an impact on the action.
A real person always has his own weaknesses, internal and external conflicts, victories and defeats that make him stronger. All this, in a good way, the author needs to show outside.
Leave in a little mystery
The best writers play with readers’ expectations by foreshadowing what’s going to happen and having mysteries throughout their story that only get answered right at the end. This helps to keep people reading and also makes them engage with the story as they try to figure out what the answer to the mystery is.
The statement of the popular American writer Mickey Spillane can serve as a vivid confirmation of the above. When asked how to write a book, he replied: “Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it’s a letdown, they won’t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book”. This is also why series writers often end on a cliffhanger so that readers stick with them for the next book.
Get a second pair of eyes
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep your plot to yourself until you’ve finished writing the book. Otherwise, people start to make well-meaning suggestions and before you know it, you’re wrapping yourself up in knots and no longer writing the book that you wanted to write. That’s why it can be a good idea to reach out to services like essay services reviews to get one of their professional writers to look it over for you and to provide any suggestions that they might have.
Re-draft and redevelop
Your plot isn’t perfect once you’ve planned out the characters, added some conflict and figured out what’s going to happen and when. You’ll want to continue to further refine it as time goes on, including based upon any feedback that you receive from third parties from the previous step. Sometimes just the passage of time can give you a new perspective. Don’t despair if it takes you a week, a month or maybe a year. This time will allow you to move away from the story you have delved into. My advice – during this time, try to write a draft of a new story before returning to the previous story.
Now that you know how to test your plot to make sure it’s as engaging as possible, the next step is for you to revisit your notes and to make sure you’ve implemented the tips and tricks that we’ve shared here. If you get it right, your story will pretty much write itself. Good luck.
Mary Voss is a freelance writer, content creator of educational, management, marketing topics and an editor in best cv writing services. She is a permanent co-organizer, moderator and attendant of educational webinars and participator of various creative marketing projects. Her main areas of interest are travelling and teaching people to live an abundant and limitless life.