Wednesday, January 13, 2016

How to Build Up a Short Bare Bones Novel Plot

I write fast short first drafts. Normally, my first draft of a story is somewhere around 10,000 words written in 3 or more days. I am a bare bones drafter and my first drafts are a quick flit from scene to scene, with dialogue and just the main plot pieced out.

There are many writers who spend months writing out an 90,000 word plot for their first draft and then go back and begin removing scenes, putting new scenes in, and adding new details.

I build up my story through a series of drafts. Here’s how.

1. Flesh Out Characters


On my first go-over, I begin to flesh out the characters in my first story. I add physical descriptions, gestures, and I begin to embellish their dialogue.

2. Scenery


I skip over the scenery in my bare bones first draft. When I go back over it, I start adding in scenery details and descriptions.

3. Subplots


By this point, my bare bones draft is at 30,000 words or more. I know the main story in and out and I notice that I’ve hinted at a few subplots. So, my next step is to go back in there and build up my subplots.

4. Add More Conflict and Tension


If something can go wrong, it should. It could be a flat tire when the main character desperately has to get someplace else or it can be a vicious dog ready to attack someone. If anything can go wrong, make it so. Put all of your characters through hell before you kill a few of them off.

5. Clarity and Loose Ends


On my final go-through, I read and edit my draft for clarity and loose ends. Any last minute additions are put in and I make sure that there is just enough foreshadowing without giving away the ending.

Does This Method Take Longer or Shorter Than a Long Draft?


It takes me just as long to build a story this way as it does for those who prefer to write a large first draft. I enjoy the bare bones method because I view my first draft as a skeleton. I then add the organs, circulatory system, the muscles, and the blood. I finish it off with a layer of skin to hold it all together and I give it its own individuality to decorate its appearance.

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