Whether you are a pantser or a plotter with your WIP, I’ve found that one thing stands out as important to do before writing that first sentence – having a Beginning, a Middle and an End. I know the pantsers are freaking out – ‘But, my characters tell me what to do, I don’t know how this will end!’ and the plotter is scratching their head thinking, ‘What’s going to go in the middle? I need days/weeks/months to get to that point…’ But writing a new story doesn’t have to be scary. It’s really simple for me. Here – I’ll break it down for you…
The Beginning, AKA, Opening Scene
This is important to think about and get right because it’s the first taste of your story that readers will consume. If it’s boring, confusing, or lacking movement, chances are the reader won’t bother to find out how the story ends. Think about a way to shock, entice or rope in your reader for the opening scene (or scenes – yes, the beginning can be more than the first paragraph), so the reader keeps turning the pages to find out what happens next.
The Middle, AKA, Conflict
I use the term ‘Middle’ loosely, because I’ve found that the major conflict that gets the characters up and over the hump and into the second part of the story, is not necessarily right in the middle of the book, and some of the best stories are FILLED with conflict. However, it’s important to have a point in Fiction writing (or several); something that the characters must confront. I consider that my middle point – the huge action, or the messy deaths, or a big fat surprise, etc…there has to be something happening in the central point of the story that once again, keeps your readers reading.
The End, AKA, The Close
Endings are complicated. Every writer has a way to close their story with their own style. Similar to the middle conflict, there can be shock, awe, tears, screams, etc… for the characters at the end of their journey, and the rules can change up a bit depending on if the story is truly over at the end, or if it will continue into a series. Readers want to finish a book and feel as if they lived the journey themselves. Having an idea or plan for your ending keeps your story in check, even if you are a pantser. If you know the main character is going to fall in or out of love, die or come back to life, then you’ll know how to write the scenes leading up to that.
Of course this is just one way out of many for how to do things. I’m not saying it’s right for everyone – and each story can obviously put a different spin on this concept. But if I sit down for a few minutes and really think about a new story using these three principals, I don’t have to plot out the entire thing to reach my goals. And I can leave plenty of room for my Muse to play around a bit, giving the characters a chance to stand on their own when they need it. It’s the best of both worlds, for me. 😉
Happy Writing, Everyone!