How To Find Your Plot

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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. She 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?

Find Your Plot By Working Out What Your Main Character Wants.

Firstly you need to work out which of your characters is your main character. Then work out why you’re starting your story at this point in their life. You will find your plot when you find what your character is doing and why.

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. 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. 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. They’re in conflict the entire time until the story is resolved with either one or the other accomplishing that story goal.

If you have some scenes but no clear conflict, you can go back and edit it in. Identify a Protagonist and Antagonist, and pit them against each other in every scene. Make it apparent from the start that they want something from their lives. Seed from the start that they are in opposition. Follow that journey and throw extra obstacles in front of them both on the way.

You Will Find Your Plot By Watching Them Try To Get What They Want

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. Then I work out from there what my story will be. 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!

How To Find Your Plot, JJ Barnes Writing Advice
Click the picture to find details about all the books written by JJ Barnes and where to buy them.

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I'm author, writer, screenwriter and filmmaker. I've always been passionate about stories, both on the page and on the screen, and now I'm lucky enough that I've been able to turn that passion into a career.

Myfirst novel, Lilly Prospero And The Magic Rabbit was the first release from Siren stories and launched the Siren Stories Universe (the SSU). Now there are multiple stories, on page and screen, all connected and exploring the world I first began to develop all those years ago. Find all my books here.

Hollowhood, the first independent film from myself and my writing partner, Jonathan McKinney, is currently in post-production. Making my own film has been an incredible experience and only affirmed my love of all things to do with film. From the camera to the costumes, I will always love everything about being on set.

As well as releasing my own stories, I'm hoping to spread love and passion for the art of story telling to others, by guiding you through different aspect of writing. I do a series of Writing Advice videos for adults, and a Creative Writing For Kids series, both on YouTube. I'm also releasing regular Writing Advice blog posts explaining different writing techniques and advice for how to get the most out of your writing experience.

Other than writing, my life is mostly spent with my partner, Jonathan McKinney, our three children, Rose, Ezekiel and Buffy, and our extremely foolish Springer Spaniel, Molly.

I love reading books, watching TV, and falling asleep during movies. When Jon comes to bed he usually finds me face down with my face on a book, or hiding under the duvet waiting for him to protect me because I've got myself in a dither reading a ghost story.

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