Author Publishing Tips

What Makes A Good Plot?

Is There A Magic Formula?

You know the ones! The edge of your seat, knuckle gnawing, nail biting books. The all-consuming novels where you are right there alongside the characters, experiencing all they are going through; the twists and turns, the highs and the lows, and the inevitable climax, leaving you satisfied but exhausted. This is what a good plot does for you…

So, what makes for a good plot. Is there a magic formula? Or is it just potluck?

Plot & Characters

Experts claim that a plot is tied inextricably with the characters, as the plot is more often than not about the conflict or struggles that the main character goes through, whether this involves others, or even if those conflicts are within the character themselves, such as feelings and emotions. Therefore, choosing a strong and interesting character is key to the creation of a good plot. Another important aspect to the integration of your plot and your main character is to make them the architect of their own fate; they must win or lose by their own actions, rather than merely being rescued by someone or something else. In this way the reader identifies with the protagonist, is drawn in, and lives the story with them.

However, even with great characters, a plot will not write itself, as your characters are not in themselves living and breathing entities. It is your responsibility to construct an outline, flesh it out, build tension, bring it to a climax, and then a resolution. Taking these steps in order will ensure that your plot stays tight rather than messy, and that all the loose ends are tied up neatly by the end of your story.

Language Devices & Foreshadowing

Using language devices such as subtle foreshadowing will hook the reader. Add twists; but make them believable and necessary to your story. Do not rush through your writing. A good plot deserves time spent on the detail, the reactions and changes of your characters, and the all-important high point near the end of your story.

Throughout your book, the conflict should build slowly at first, then become more and more tense and exiting as it progresses. Once the build-up of tension has resulted in a fantastic climax, followed by a satisfying resolution, wrap your story up very quickly. If you drag it out, both your plot and your characters will suffer. 

The end of the story is what will remain in the reader’s mind once they have put your book down. Make it memorable. Just like those edge of your seat, knuckle gnawing, nail biting books.


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