With the end of October only a few days away, I really have to work on my NaNoWriMo project outline on my writer’s notebook, which I have rather abandoned last week because I went on a vacation. Problem is—plotting or outlining has never been my strong point.
This is especially a big problem when I have so little time left to prepare, despite all the bragging and announcements I made at the start of Preptober. I really need a crash course on plotting, and I need it quick. But at the same time, I have to make up somehow for not posting anything last week on this website.
I obviously couldn’t focus on both. So imagine how glad I was when my good author friend, Yarii, who writes amazing historical fiction herself, agreed to write a guest blog post on my website to talk about plotting.
With her contribution, I thought, I could post something new on my website, plus I could learn a thing or two from her. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
And boy, was I right.
In any case, I’m planning to start posting regularly on my blog after I finished my outline, so please feel free to follow the blog or any of my social media (Twitter, Instagram) if you’re interested in my struggles during the upcoming NaNoWriMo, or even if you just want to know what I did during my short getaway several days ago.
Okay, I’ll stop with my ramblings and get into Yarii’s guest post about plotting below. If you find the article below helpful, please check out her works. She just independently published her book, Botan, and it is now widely available for purchase through this link. If you like historical fiction, or if you like Japanese culture, you definitely have to get the book!
Another word for plotting is planning and to some writers, planning is not very fun especially when you want to write a mystery whether it is slice-of-life mystery, murder case mystery, kidnapping mystery, etc. Any kind of mystery needs a huge amount of time in planning. So, I will be sharing what I know in hopes that my knowledge will help green writers(I am green too! Heya, fellow green writers!) get to know plotting.
Let’s take a look at this classic most basic plot diagram. It has exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.
Exposition is where you introduce all of your important characters. Let readers get to know the basic but important information or traits of the characters. Your antagonist too must be introduced here(but it doesn’t mean you need to tell the readers!). Exposition is also where you introduce the conflict. Remember that every story or rather, everyone has problems. The main problem will be your protagonist’s problem.
Rising Action is where you push your children a.k.a characters down the boiling pot. Let them get deeper into the conflict and give them a strong reason why they must solve the problem. Is his bestie a murderer? Is his forgetful grandma secretly an agent in disguise? Curiosity is always the best weapon to get the characters moving, however, the best way is to have a reason that has another reason(do you get this?). For example, his forgetful grandma is secretly an agent in disguise. Why is she involved in a case? Why is she, a grandma, an agent? What case? So, turns out grandma’s reason to become an agent is because she wants to find the killer to his grandpa(this would be the main conflict so the protagonist must have a sort of attachment to the deceased grandpa).
Climax is… a climax. It is the peak of the story and it must serve as the ‘thrill’ to the story. It may be the “unveiling truth” as well. For example, the killer that the grandma wants to find, turns out to be protagonist’s uncle(what?!) and he is in the house sitting next to grandma(Oh noes!). His reason is because he wants the family wealth.
Next we have Falling Action which means the action to solve the problem. It is where the protagonist finds a way to solve the problem and proceeds with his plan. For example, he has found out that his uncle is the one who killed grandpa and grandma wants to have justice. That moment he comes in and ask his uncle for a lunch outside, pretending to have problems he needs to consult. While preparing to go out, he slips a note to grandma. Inside the note he writes the restaurant address they are going and also police station telephone number.
Lastly, we have Denouement which is the ending or the solution to the story. It is when the murderer gets captured, killed or punished. Depending on what kind of mystery you want to write, you can arrange climax close to falling action and denouement. For example, Sherlock Holmes. The revealing and the solving are put very close together because Sherlock reveals everything and solves everything almost in the end. Continuing the example i made, the protagonist manages to eat with his uncle. However, the uncle actually realizes that his nephew deliberately invites for lunch(wow, uncle). With a gun under the table and aimed at the protagonist, the protagonist has no cards to play. However, grandma has already called the police. In the nick of time, the police reaches and captures uncle. “Why?! How?!” Uncle shouts at grandma, bursting with anger. Grandma calmly pulls the trigger to her gun, shotting his leg. “Because I love my husband.” Pulling the trigger again, Grandma says, “Because I am an agent.”
Voila, the basic plotting is done! Now you get the gist of it, chop chop! Get writing! Thank you Alicia for the offer to guest-post! I hope this helps fellow writers out there.
Yarii was born on 7th of April 1997. She loves Japanese, Chinese, and Indonesian culture & history. She self-proclaims that she is trapped in love with Hijikata Toshizo, vice-commander of Shinsengumi. Exploring the theme of mystery and Edo Japanese prostitution, she produced an original historical-fiction called Autumn Crescent Moon, which is still in progress. She recently released a historical-fiction, focusing on the history and romance with the demon, called Botan(Peony).
Amidst working on Botan and Autumn Crescent Moon, she produces fanfiction compilation books and occasionally writes haiku (Japanese poem), poems, thoughts, flash fictions, etc.
Find her here: