I’ll be writing about the video How do you find your plot if you’ve started writing without one? Advice for writing your book, from the writing advice series I’m doing on YouTube with Jonathan McKinney.
On Instagram we were asked a question by @Books_To_Life, who wanted to know what you can do if you start writing your story, and you have some good characters and a good concept, but you don’t have a plot yet. How do you turn a collection of scenes and characters interacting into an actual story?
What Does Your Main Character Want?
Firstly you need to work out which of your characters is your main character, and then work out why you’re starting your story at this point in their life. What is it that character wants from their life and how are they going to go about getting it. The plot for your story will grow from why they don’t have it, and what is stopping them getting it.
Your main character is your Protagonist, and the main conflict of your story is their journey to trying to achieve their goal of getting what they want whilst something or someone gets in their way.
What your Protagonist wants could be, essentially, anything as long as they want something. They could want to travel somewhere, they could want a romantic relationship, as long as they have a specific goal. Vague ideas aren’t enough because there’s no reason to jump into their life at this point if there’s not something they’re actively seeking.
Who Is Stopping Them Get It?
When you’ve figured out your Protagonist and their goals, pick an Antagonist. Your Antagonist has their own goals that are directly in conflict with your Protagonist’s goals. And they can’t both have what they want. They will both go after their goals and have their own journey and story arc, but they’re in conflict the entire time until the story is resolved with either one or the other accomplishing that goal, and the other one failing.
If you have an existing collection of scenes but you haven’t identified a Protagonist and Antagonist, and you haven’t put in their mutually exclusive goals, then you can go back and edit that in. Make it apparent from the start that they want something from their lives, seed from the start that they are in opposition, then follow that journey and throw extra obstacles in front of them both on the way.
Your Story Follows Their Journey To Getting It
Remember, if you don’t have characters in pursuit of something, you don’ t have a story. If there’s no reason they can’t just get what they want, there’s no story. As soon as they get what they want, the story is over.
Having a base of characters you love to write is a really good start. I often think of a person I want to write about and connect with and then work out from there what my story will be, so you don’t need to start immediately with the entire plot, as long as once you’ve established who it is you’re writing about, you find their story.
You can find more writing advice on our YouTube channel where we’ll help you become a better and more confident writer. If you have any writing questions, comment below and we will try to do a video for every question we get. If you’ve found my work helpful, please consider dropping me a tip in my Paypal tip jar to help me keeping bringing you free writing advice!