So you’ve started your novel with great enthusiasm. You’ve finished the first few chapters and don’t know where to go next. Running out of inspiration? Woman writing competition judge Jane Wenham-Jones has good advice for unpublished writers taking part in our search for a new star of women’s contemporary fiction.
- Remember there is no “right” way to plot a novel – only what works for you. Some novelists plan everything out meticulously before they write a word, others just start typing. Many – including me – know what’s in the first chapter, have a vision for the end and have a few ideas for the major events along the way, but work out the detail as they go. All are equally valid.
- Experiment with different ways of planning. Some writers like to use index cards – with notes for each scene or chapter on separate cards and keep them neatly in a box. Others prefer a notebook or a folder or just a hundred tiny scraps of paper. There are various sorts of charts you can employ – a thread chart or a spider – or ways of having a big visual plan, say by using card and post-it notes, or even a roll of wallpaper! I outline all the different ways I could think of in Wannabe a Writer?. Why not try them all and see which suits you.
- Whichever method you settle with, it is useful to have some sort of overview you can easily consult – even if this is just a single sheet of paper with an outline typed on it. As I always say, writing a novel can be like grappling with a huge armful of slippery cooked spaghetti that you need to fit into a very small container!
- Don’t let the fact that you have no idea what will happen after chapter three, prevent you from getting started. Inspiration will come, once you begin writing. As someone wise once said: Trust the process.
- If you are really stuck, just jump to the next bit you DO know. Leave yourself some notes in capitals: NOT SURE WHAT HAPPENS HERE. MAYBE ANOTHER SCENE AT WORK OR MAYBE MOTHER COMES TO STAY – SOMETHING THAT STRESSES HER OUT ANYWAY SO SHE’S NOT CONCENTRATING WHEN SHE’S DRIVING. Then cut straight to the dramatic chapter you have clearly in your head, when she crashes the car in the rain and is rushed to hospital.
You can view the original at http://accenthub.com/lost-the-plot-jane-wenham-jones-top-tips-for-plotting-your-entry-for-woman-writing-competition.
Jane Wenham-Jones is the author of best-selling contemporary novels One Glass Is Never Enough, Prime Time and the popular writing guides Wannabe A Writer and Wannabe A Writer We’ve Heard Of.
For more details on how to enter our search for a new star of women’s fiction click here. (Deadline Friday 9th January 2015)