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The Craft of Writing › Plots & Plotting

How The Four Elements Are Related

Plot, Style, Character Development, and Length are always related. Any good novel has exactly the right balance of each, one that is appropriate to the genre and story. Also, it’s important to note that genres tend to “weight” those four factors differently. In literary fiction, the weighting generally goes something like this: Most important factor: […]

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Plot Holes: What They Are And How To Avoid Them

My 12 year old son introduced me to a hilarious series of cartoons on YouTube. It’s all about providing alternative endings to popular films. (If you search ‘how it should have ended’ on YouTube, they’ll come up.) Some of them, such as the proposed alternative ending to Braveheart, are just surreal. But others give much […]

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Plot Twists

Dear Barbara, I love your column and hope you’ll find time to answer one of my questions. 🙂 I’ve been told my story needs more “plot twists” and the ones I do have are very weak and need to be strengthened. I was wondering if you could explain in detail what a plot twist is […]

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Plotter or Pantser: The Best of Both Worlds

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you outline before you sit down to write your novel, or do you sit down at the computer each day, waiting to be surprised, writing your book literally by the seat of your pants? Or are you a combination of the two? Most authors will identify themselves […]

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Prep That Book

Before you start writing your novel, it is my firm opinion that you need to have at least a general idea of what the story is (plot), who’s in it (characters), and the world in which it takes place (world-building). In the previous article, we discussed designing your novel’s premise. Once that step is completed, […]

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The Four Basic Elements Of Any Novel

It’s critical to understand these elements and how they are related. 1.  Plot There are many definitions of plot, but plot is essentially the story, or the events that make up what the book is about. Plot, of course, is defined by conflict, either internal (coming to terms with the loss of a spouse, for […]

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