Some parts of writing are just so structurally a part of the story that you don’t think about how they fall into place. They just do. But when you’re writing your story – in the form of a book – you have to remember to bring all the parts together in a functional whole.
There’s a fun way to bring it all together, that happens whenever you’re working in a writing group. Or as a ghost writer, with other writers working on the same project. That same method of writing works well when you’re writing by yourself, if you apply it.
1 – Character Chapters
Some books offer the option of letting different characters speak through various chapters of the book. The best options are to have two or three characters speaking through the book, and those characters carry the story during those chapters. Interaction between those characters can be confusing, but if you remember to stay in one head (we call that head hopping when you transfer from one to another), the process is easier.
Functional characters make a much stronger storyline than weaker, less developed characters. Don’t be afraid to put some punch into your characters, so they become memorable.
2 – Plot the Whole Book
- Who is your main character?
- Who is your antagonist?
- What challenges will your main character face?
- What conflict will your antagonist create?
- Where will your story take place?
- Who will be speaking through your story?
- What will your hooks be?
- Are you going to solve each hook in the next chapter or carry them further into the book?
- What is the grand finale of your book?
When you can write all these things out in a somewhat organized fashion, you’re well on your way to having a book you can write. Get started!
3 – Define your Settings
Using a scene per chapter is a good way to sort through your dialogue and put it into action. If you can describe and define each setting in a couple of sentences, under each chapter heading, you’ll have a head start on writing that chapter. (But don’t start each chapter with these descriptions!)
4 – Outline your Primary Challenges
I like to have at least three major challenges in a book. I organize them by chapter, and highlight each challenge in a different color (pink, blue, yellow) to make sure I follow through and have them sorted by priority.
One will be really important to the book and should be ignited within the first chapter. Usually the first and biggest one is a character flaw. My personal favorite is a lack of confidence, then I list all the ways my character lacks confidence, topped only by all the ways my character gains confidence throughout the book.
The second will be a minor challenge, perhaps location? Maybe the character has to find a way to get from the first location to the main location – transportation can be a huge challenge in many books.
The third challenge should be somewhat important, and perhaps not related to the main character, but rather the antagonist. Perhaps the antagonist needs to learn how to accomplish their task? Try several here and use the one most relevant to your story.
5 – Define Conflict
List all the ways the conflict impacts your main character. Perhaps he’s dying of cancer, and has to provide for his family before he dies? List all the many things he must do, and how he will accomplish them. Ultimately, you must solve your conflict.
Just as in real life, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t die… Although miraculous healing can be the solution you choose. The reality is solutions come in a myriad of ways, find the one that suits your story best.
6 – List all Hooks
These should include whatever challenge they’re related too (remember color), the character who leaves the hook, and the part of the conflict that is relevant to the hook. If you have a hook that isn’t related to something you’ve already done, be sure to add the story line, you don’t want to leave your reader hanging…
7 – Connect ALL of the Dots
You’ve built a solid foundation for writing your book, now connect all the dots. This is the part where you write your book – when you connect the dots.
Your writing skill will make everything come together and flow between characters, conflicts, challenges, scenes, and hooks.
- writing structure
What are you waiting for?
Let’s get started writing!