Like salsanpeeps, I started writing without planning. Then, a few summers ago, I took a fabulous class on children’s writing from my local community college. I was given tools, many of which appear in other posts on this blog, that (I think) have improved my writing. One of my favorites is the Twelve Point Recipe for Plotting:
- Who is the main character?
- Who (or what) is the antagonist?
- Who are the other people in the story?
- What does the main character want? Why?
- How important is it for the individual to get what he or she wants?
- How does the antagonist prevent the main character from getting what he or she wants?
- What does the main character do about this obstacle?
- What are the results of his or her initial action?
- What do these struggles lead to?
- What is the climax?
- Does the main character accomplish his or her purpose or abandon it in favor of something else?
- What is the theme? What basic truth have you illustrated through your character’s action and reaction?
I had trouble using this at first. I thought I had to stick to this plan no matter what. I’ve learned that the Twelve Points help, but I also need to be flexible and let the characters and story lead me where they want to go.