Martha Alderson is a friend, a critique partner, and a wonderful teacher of plot. Her blog, The Plot Whisperer, is a font of information about crafting your fiction, and you can buy Martha’s book and other plot tools at her website, Blockbuster Plots. To celebrate the end of NaNoWriMo, Martha has declared December National Plot Month and is giving daily tips at her blog to help you get started on revising that manuscript.
I asked Martha to stop by and give us just a taste of this next stage, how to look at those tens of thousands of words you just produced and figure out what you’re supposed to do with them.
Thank you, Becky, for inviting me to guest blog “about the kind of plotting a writer can do when they’ve FINISHED NaNoWriMo.” I agree with you that this is a crucial time–because, as you say–“it’s the first time (if the writers have done such a fast first draft) that they start shaping the story.”
The craft of writing involves taking what the muse has offered during the first draft and shaping the words into a coherent story. This step involves more than rewriting. The craft of writing requires a revisioning of the overall story.
The first draft is all about getting the words on the page.
Now it is time to forget the words.
Instead, stand back and analyze the story as a whole.
Consider the overall structure, how the characters develop and transform, where the gaps and holes appear, how the dramatic action rises and falls, the flow, the pace, the voice, what themes are introduced, and the overall meaning of the story itself.
Plot Tricks & Tips to Prepare for Draft Two
- Do not read your manuscript for at least a week, preferably longer.
- Do not show your first draft to others.
- No editing. (Editing keeps you at the word level. Now is the time to consider the story as a whole.)
- Break the story into the Beginning, Middle, and End. Each part has specific parameters and is easier to manage that takes place in each section.
- List the main events that take place in each section.
- Plot out step-by-step what happens to the main character in each of the three parts, both in terms of the action and in terms of their own individual growth, based on the action.
If you have a draft of a novel, memoir, or screenplay and are at a loss as to how to take your writing to the next level, join me throughout the month of December. I’ll take you through the process of crafting your first draft into a viable story.