Developing Fictional Characters – 8 Helpful Approaches

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You have already written fifty, eighty, maybe even a hundred pages.

But suddenly nothing works anymore.

Now you look at your work. Trying to reach for a common thread. But you can only get your hands on loose ends. Would like to bring them together. But you get tangled up more and more. Finally, you admit to yourself: without a plan of what you are actually doing, you will not get anywhere.

There are good reasons to plot your story carefully. In this article you will find out which ones are and why plotting is still not a panacea.

Orientation while writing

If you don’t know what to do while you’re writing, just pull out your plot and see where you are. So you can switch flexibly between the writing and planning level. If you are no longer convinced of your preliminary work, you simply revise the plot. However, this is only possible if you have one at all.

Understand your story better

The pure novel idea is often not enough to start writing. It helps if you already know a little more about the characters involved, their goals and their motivation.

Furthermore, plotting allows you to draw up the most important turning points of your story and their tension curve. By the time you write the first sentence of your novel, you already have an idea of ​​where you are headed.

Targeted use of dramaturgical patterns

There are certainly many ways to build the plot of a novel. And yet proven models such as the 3-act structure or the hero’s journey can be helpful in creating a compelling story.

Plot models make it easier for you to work on your own ghostwriting nonfiction company novel.

These are not to be understood as rules or regulations. After all, they are derived from existing stories. They don’t tell you what to write, but support you in constructing the plot of your novel in an exciting way.

However, you can only apply dramaturgical models correctly by looking at your entire story at once – and you can do just that by plotting.

No wasting

The writing a novel is a mammoth project.

There is a risk of getting bogged down in many corners: New characters are constantly being added who also want to play a role in your story. You invent narrative thread after narrative thread to give your story the necessary complexity. In the middle of it all comes the idea of ​​telling a story within the story in which a story is embedded again.

By having a plot, you can pursue your ideas and let your characters lead you astray from time to time. Still, you don’t need to be afraid of getting lost in it.

If you no longer know what your book is actually about, which of your building sites is essential, you look back at the plot. So you can integrate secondary threads into the main storyline and pursue your creative impulses without straying from the path.

Observe genre rules

What kind of novel do you want to write? Should it be placed in the U-Literature or in the E-Literature area? Do you want to serve a certain genre? If so, do you know which structures, motives and rules apply in your genre?

If you are writing genre literature in the strictest sense, plotting will help you not disappoint your readers’ expectations. This makes it much easier to find out whether your project is actually a romance, development or fantasy novel and what else you should change about it so that it becomes a really good example of its genre.

Do not rush into anything

Many authors are so enthusiastic about their idea that they start writing on the spot. On the one hand, it’s nice when you’re so motivated. On the other hand, many problems can arise from this:

  • You don’t really know your characters yet and don’t know what their real desires and motives are.
  • While you are writing, it only becomes clear where your idea will lead you and nothing fits together anymore.
  • You only gradually notice the challenges of your action in the temporal, logical and psychological sense and you do not succeed in solving them.

By plotting your novel before you actually start writing, you’ll save yourself from rushing it.

Sometimes it is really difficult to slow down like that.

But if your project is important to you, you should first work out the story so as not to completely jeopardize its success.

You have a chronological overview of your story

The plot of a novel can take place in a single hour, span a human life, or even several millennia. When telling your story you can step forward linearly, tell with retrospectives or jump wildly back and forth.

When it comes to time, pretty much anything is possible in a novel. But the more complicated the structure of the story and your narrative style, the greater the risk of losing track and getting caught up in contradictions.

Plotting is a great help in keeping the temporal dimension of your novel plot under control. Only by summarizing your story will you get the necessary overview. If the happening is particularly complicated, you can easily add a timeline to the plot on which you enter the time of the events.

Become a good storyteller

Plotting doesn’t just help you write a novel.

It also supports you in your development as an author.

Not every idea becomes a finished book in the end. And not every novel plot you have written has to convince you to such an extent that you actually put the work on paper.

Sometimes while plotting you will find that you don’t want to write the story (anymore). But even then, the plotting wasn’t in vain.

For one, you saved yourself from spending a lot of time writing on a hopeless project. On the other hand, with each story you draft, you learn how to build up the plot in an exciting way. Little by little you will become a better storyteller.

Design complex narrative structures

Some genres require a particularly high level of complexity. In a good detective novel or thriller, you can’t tell right from the start who the villain is or why he did what he did. At the end of the day, the reader should say:

“I should have guessed it!”

But he didn’t think so.

The wrong and correct traces and clues, conclusions and diversionary maneuvers are only arranged in retrospect to form a coherent picture.

As natural as these circumstances can appear while reading, the necessary advance planning is just as demanding for the author. Plotting can go a long way in overcoming this challenge.

Develop a feeling for the market opportunities

Many authors want or have to earn money with their books. For this it is crucial that there are potential buyers for your novel.

If you just start writing, there is no telling where your novel idea will develop. Can your idea be brought to the readership later?

It is difficult to answer this question.

If you plot your story beforehand, you will have a much clearer idea of ​​it. This allows you to clarify whether there is a market for them before you write. It is often not easy to decide this on your own. Then, it is worth a typing tutor , author coach to let or author advisor draufschauen or your project in a writing seminar imagine.

Why plotting is not a panacea

With all the hymns of praise, it should not go unmentioned that plotting is also dangerous. To overcome the challenges of novel writing, it is by no means enough to plot well. And sometimes it can even be harmful.

In the following I describe three specific difficulties if you give too much weight to plotting or if you follow it too dogmatically.

Danger 1: The character development is neglected

If you fixate on the plot alone, you won’t find out what your characters actually want. The storyline and your characters should come apart. If you don’t know who you’re writing about, it becomes extremely difficult for the reader to identify with the hero of your story.

Danger 2: You force your story into a corset

The starting points, turning points and climaxes of which the dramaturgical models speak, help you to optimize your story. Through them, you know, at best, which ups and downs your fictional characters are going through, at which point luck to bad luck and bad luck turns to happiness, at what moment everything changes for the better or goes down the drain.

However, if you mistakenly understand the plot models as a rule or regulation, you slip them over your novel idea and cut it off. But she urgently needs it in order to grow and bear fruit.

Danger 3: You lose your desire for creative writing

You spent weeks or even months planning your novel in advance, but somehow the story is still not round.

Originally you wanted to be creative.

But slowly you feel like an architect at the drawing board trying to plan a building whose walls, floors and roof look crooked, no matter what he is doing. At some point he doesn’t want to see the house anymore, even though not a single wall is up yet.

Using plotting to get to the heart of your story and its turning points can be motivating. However, you can overdo it by trying to clear every minute detail before you write. Then your lust will be gone before you really start.

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