A disheveled and confused fellow once approached an old man and asked him,” Sir, could you please tell me where I am?”
The old man looked at him for a long time, and asked him where he wanted to go.
“It doesn’t matter,” he replied. “I’m just wandering.”
“Then it doesn’t matter where you are,” said the old man.
Wandering might be a good way to spend a lazy Saturday, or perhaps even a good way to find yourself, metaphorically speaking, but it won’t get you to a specific destination. You might end up with a bunch of great experiences or blisters on your feet.
A man without a plan is much like a plot without a story, Zen Scribe concluded.
Did he mean a man without a plan is much like a story without a plot?
“My version,” he said “sounds more mysterious.”
In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes “Once you have that sense of mission, you have the essence of your own proactivity.” Although he wrote this in the completely different context of personal mission statements as motivational tools, it is easy to draw parallels between your mission and writing a book.
Once you have a goal or a plot, you can see whether a scene is taking you towards your goal or away from it. Is the scene you have just written mere padding? The truth is that if you do not plot a story beforehand, you will either do it afterwards by way of rewriting, or you will end up with a wandering story that does not know where it is going.
An actual InstaScriber conversation, intercepted by the NSA: What did you think of REDACTED‘s book?
He can write great sentences, but seems to struggle with using them in a coherent story.
That means, plot, plot, plot counts!
A Plot is not…
It is impossible to overstate the value of plot, yet at the same time discovering the plot is not the aim of the reading experience. The normal reader does not read because authors are great plotters. It is more about emotional experience.
Let your readers get angry at the characters. Or feel the pain of rejection. Let them smell the roses as they journey along with your characters.
A plot is not the story, just like a skeleton is not a person. When is the last time you said, I really enjoyed spending time with that skeleton?
(Archeologists, forensic pathologists and grave robbers excluded.)
Do you remember those “You determine the story” books? At the bottom of the page you are faced with a decision: Open the door? Go to Page 18. Keep on walking? Go to Page 24.
This is what a book reads like if the plot is the story.
More about plotting tips in Part 2!
Here’s the link to: Plotting Your Success Novel – Part 2