Monday, April 4, 2011

How to Plan out a Story

Believe it or not, this is not a book review! It's been a while since I blogged about something other than a book or an event, and I hope this proves to be helpful. A few weeks ago a friend asked me some advice about writing a book, and I thought I should blog about some good steps to planning a book out.
1. Have an idea on what's going to happen. It's one thing to say that you're going to write a book, but another to actually do it. Wanting to write a book is also no good unless you want to know what you want to write about (do you want to write a science-fiction story or a fantasy novel?). Also you must have an idea on what you would like to have occur in the plot (like what's going on in the world that the characters are in and why is it up to them to meet the challenge).
2. Come up with characters for your story. One of the most important, and obvious, ingredients in a story. They're the people the reader will follow and will expect them to grow as the story progresses. You must know what they are like at the beginning of the story, and how they will change at the end. Also is there a lesson that the readers should learn from the character's journey?
3. Make a plot chart. This will allow you to place important events in a story in one place and gives a good map to look over and figure out where you are in your story. I know you won't be able to get every single event that you would like to have occur in your story on a plot chart, but it'll allow you to keep track of the main events. You can make notes underneath or on the other side of the paper of other events you would like to have happen in the story.
4. Do a rough draft. You're not going to get what you want on your first try, so you'll need to go back and rewrite. It's a good idea to read a rough draft out loud to someone, like a friend or family member, to see which areas still need work and which ones are okay. Be sure to make notes on what you want to keep and what you may need to work on some more. If an idea on how to make your rough draft better comes to you and you don't have access to a computer, then write you idea on a piece of paper and try it when you get to a computer.
5. Write the story. This is where your planning comes to. Now you write about the story you wanted with characters who will grow and change as the story progresses. You may need to edit and rewrite as you progress, but that's okay. When you rewrite, you can add events in that you may not have thought of before. Just remember that everything fits in or is needed in the story because if you add something that doesn't really help the plot at all, then you risk ruining the story.


  1. Great stuff David. I think this is very helpful information. I have found that there is also something to be said for having a general idea of what kind of story you want to write and then just start writing and see where the story goes. I do a little of both. Sometimes I am amazed how a story can write itself if one just starts writing with a general idea. I am not sure everyone can do that though. Maybe that is more of a talent thing.

  2. Good point Steve. This is what I generally try to do when writing a story.