Diana Kimpton  author
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Plots and Plotting:
How to create stories that work

cover of plots and plottingThis book is about the techniques I've learned during my career as a professional author.. But it's not a set of rules for you to follow - that would kill your creativity. Instead it's a set of tools that you can use in whichever way fits best with the way your mind works.

I know that examples always make explanations clearer so I developed a new plot in real time while I was writing the book to show you how my ideas work in practice. This lets you see the plotting process in action, complete with mistakes, changes of mind and flashes of inspiration - something you can never discover by looking at a finished story.

To make the book as useful as possible, I've presented my ideas in a clear, friendly style and tried to avoid waffle and jargon. This makes it easy to pick out the particular information you need and to dip back in when you want to look something up.

I like your direct approach, your refusal to be dogmatic and the way you root your advice in personal experience. I will certainly recommend the book to my students.

Professor Matthew Francis
Dept of English & Creative Writing
Aberystwyth University


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Full Contents List

1: To plot or not to plot
2: When’s the right time to write
3: The basic components of a good story
4: How theory works in practice
5: The magic of three 6: Finding ideas
      Brainstorming and Mind Maps
      Analysing the results
      Using real events
7: A note about themes
8: Starting to develop your story
      Why you always need characters
      What defines characters?
      Why there must be a problem
9: It’s never too soon to think of the ending
      What makes a good ending?
10: Step outlines – the powerful way to plot
       The practicalities of step outlining
11: Step outlining in action
12: Research
        The value of first-hand experience
        Research in action
13: Developing characters
        Using real names
        Family issues
        The problem with parents
14: Making characters believable
        Providing information in good time
        Motivation matters
15: Character arcs
16: Character development in action
17: Sorting out the setting
       Inventing a place
       Inventing worlds
       Maps and records
18: Setting development in action
       Sorting out the world
       The effect on the plot
19: Making your story original
        Putting the search for originality into action
20: Adding humour
21: Special issues with series
       The pros and cons of series
        Freestanding series
        Freestanding series without regular characters
        Series that tell a story
        Keeping the reader up to date
        Putting series planning into action
22: Viewpoint
        Viewpoint problems
        Using multiple viewpoints
        Viewpoint issues in children’s books
        How viewpoint affects plotting
23: Choosing where to start
        What about prologues?
        Putting theory into practice
24: Making every step count
        What about description?
        Show, don’t tell
25: Subplots and story strands
        How many strands does a book need?
        Mirrored strands Unconnected strands
        Weaving strands together
26: Creating story strands
        Making strands relevant
        Story strand creation in action
        Staying flexible
27: Conflict, dilemmas and problems
        The problem/dilemma connection
        Types of problem
        The trouble with phones
        Putting theory into practice
28: Pacing your book
        Tension can be tiring
        Keeping interest going
29: What’s at stake?
        Increasing the stakes
30: Handling time
        Time jumps
        Time travel
        Time pressure
31: When the plot goes wrong
        Dealing with feedback
32: Troubleshooting the beginning
33: Troubleshooting the middle
34: Troubleshooting the end
35: Troubleshooting the length
36: Choosing the title
37: A final update on Future Proof


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