Novel Writing 12: My Plotting & Pacing Process.

I’m now over 25,000 words into the first draft of my latest novel. As things continue to come together, I’ve been thinking about the techniques I use to bring my plot together and keep it punchy.

Before I started writing my current trilogy, I sat down and worked through a series of world-building exercises, which helped me to create the topography and setting of the Empire. My Inspector Ambrose stories were a chance to explore the Empire’s capital, Traville, but now I had to spread my wings and look around the far corners of the world I was creating.

On top of the setting, I had to think about the characters I was writing about. What did they want? Why were they in the story? The way characters think directs the action, so this part took a significant chunk of time, making sure I had a solid understanding of who was in the story, as well as the world they lived in.

All that work has paid off as I’ve written, because I can refer back to my map, notes, and understanding of what does and doesn’t work in the Empire. So Step 1 is to do your pre-work. By making sure you know the world you’re writing about, you’ll avoid shattering the faith of readers when your protagonist gets into an entirely illogical situation.

After the pre-work, Step 2 is to write a rough synopsis. I go through and write the whole story in one big blab. It’s simply a long series of paragraphs detailing the rough way I see things playing out, and who’s going to be affected by each situation. I then jot down chapter titles to give myself an idea of roughly how long I’ll spend on each scene. Normally, I’ll have several crucial scenes in mind that I can see being the pinnacle of the story. There may even be a couple of these scenes; in the second book of this trilogy, I had one scene in mind, and it took me about 65,000 words to get to it.

Finally, the last step is actually part of the writing process proper. Step 3 is to check that pacing stays snappy. Now, J. K. Rowling does this really well in the Harry Potter series. She doesn’t let things die down; with a swift sentence, Rowling moves the action into the next scene. Now in my current story, I’ve managed to double the amount of chapters I thought I’d need to get to my current point in the storyline. I’m not too worried at the moment, because I think it’s important to let a story flow as it needs to; you can always go back and trim later.

So there you have it; the three steps I use to develop my plot and keep pacing in check. As my writing continues to roll on, I’ll let you know how it’s going.

Thanks for dropping by!

One response to “Novel Writing 12: My Plotting & Pacing Process.”

  1. Thanks for sharing. Great to read another writer’s process and connect.

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