Writing a Novel? Choose a Plot Or a Story Line

All novels have either a plot or a story line. A plot is event-driven. With a plot, the emphasis is on events – things that happen and the protagonist comes through relatively unchanged. A plot has its point of recognition delayed to near the end. A story line is character-driven. With a story line, the emphasis is on character and the protagonist emerges changed, either for the better or the worse. In a story line, the reader may see the point of recognition but the protagonist doesn’t.

In a plot driven novel, you can plot the external event that kicks off the chain of events that forms the backbone of the novel. You can also plot the point of recognition, the major complication and the ante-climax complication.

In the story line based novel, you also plot the external event that kicks off the chain of event and the major complication. However, you don’t plot the point of recognition or the ante-climax complication because these come out of the character which drives the story. In the story line, the character changes and the point of recognition and the ante-climax come out of those changes.

In other words, you still need to have a framework for your novel…you know what the theme is, what the story idea is and what the major complication is. You still need to have a beginning, 모바일홀덤 middle and end for the novel. In the story line, you need to get right into the heart of the character’s personality in the first chapter. You have the character jogging along in the same old rut, day after day and bingo, in the first chapter, something happens that jars her out of her rut.

I like to think in terms of something that would cause me to stop and think, well, now, what do I do now, in this situation that I never expected and don’t think I can handle. Abortion is a good flash point which I use in working through examples because it is such a painful and emotionally laden topic. In real life, I never discuss it but, this is fiction. Okay…the character is living a good solid happy life and suddenly discovers she is pregnant, although she took all precautions. She cannot have child, not in her situation and she cannot bear the burden of having an abortion. The fact is, she is going to have to do one or the other. Chances are, at the end of this particular tale, her character will have changed. Certainly her view of who she was has changed.

As you begin writing, you may not know if she is going to have an abortion or a baby, so you don’t know the point of recognition or what will cause it and you don’t know the final decision yet. But you do know the character and you explore that.

You still need to outline – don’t get caught up in just letting the character drive the story. There must be a roadmap – guideposts along the way. This is my own idea, but I think that each chapter in a story line novel should have a little complication tossed in along the way, just to keep the pages turning.


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