Picking your plot

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When it comes to plotting, how do you go about it?

Every writer, of course, has their own way of creating a story, but crime author, Stuart Neville, was recently asked the following question about plotting versus character building, and I thought it was worth flagging up:

Q: ‘When you’re writing, what do you create first – plot or character?’

Neville replied: “Plot is a consequence of the choices that characters make, so plot can’t exist without character.”

Author, Stuart Neville

Author, Stuart Neville

I liked this. It was clear and to the point. Often, we can get bogged down in creating the ‘perfect plot’ – I know I do – and I think Neville’s advice was simple but incredibly useful. If you consider character and plot as being intertwined rather than treating them as two separate entities, then your story will flow more easily and happen more naturally.

Really knowing your character(s) however, and placing them in particular situations and making them respond to those situations – to make decisions – will give you the beginnings of a plot. The consequence(s) of these decisions will subsequently lead to more situations, decisions and plot points – and so on and so forth.

As Neville said: “If a boulder rolls down a hill and hits a house, that isn’t plot. If someone pushes a boulder down a hill because he doesn’t like the person who owns the house, then that is a plot.”

 

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