Writing a novel begins with a simple idea. That story idea is what will lead you to your story plot, which is the core of what you need for writing a novel.
Plot is simply the plan of your story. It’s the movement of the people in your story through situations and through settings to get to certain goals.
Some novel ideas are about a situation. Some ideas about a character. No matter where your idea starts, you must turn the idea into a plot if you want enough story for writing a novel.
How do you do this?
By asking questions.
The two questions you want to ask to transform an idea into a plot are:
1. What if?
What if is the seed question to every novel plot. To get a full, complex plot, you must ask this question over and over and over and over.
For example, take the idea of an alternate universe where fat is considered beautiful. To transform this idea into a plot you might ask, What if a very obese woman from our universe ended up in this alternate universe? What would that be like for her? What if she suddenly was considered a drop-dead gorgeous in this alternate universe? What would that be like for her? What if she started losing weight? What if by losing weight, she ends up as unhappy in this universe as she was in the one she left behind?
Do you see how this works? You play with “what if.”
Once you’ve asked the what if questions several times, you’re ready to ask the next question.
The why question expands on your what if questions. You use why to flesh out the scenarios you came up with as a result of asking what if.
For example, one of the what if questions for the alternate universe idea could be, “What if the main character started losing weight?” To expand on this what if, you would ask, “Why?” Why would she lose weight? The why would take you back to what if. What if she lost weight because she was so happy that she no longer ate to cover her pain?
That what if would lead you to another why: Why, if she ate to cover pain, wouldn’t she just eat again once she started losing weight in the new reality? Wouldn’t that make her unhappy enough to binge again? Why wouldn’t she just go back to eating a lot?
That why, again, will take you to a what if: What if she no longer wants to eat to cover pain-something in her experience of this new universe has changed her. She just doesn’t know what it is.
Do you see the process?
You ask what if. That gives you information. Then you ask why. That gives you more information, which leads you back to what if.
It’s impossible to structure novel plotting much more than this. It’s a general brainstorming process that requires your mind to be free and full of possibility. This brainstorming is what will give you the foundation of what you need for writing a novel. Click here to learn more...