Folding Great Ideas into Your Novel

Those who’ve never attempted a novel read a favorite and marvel at the story as it unfolds. What most don’t understand is that the story wasn’t (usually) created in chronological order.
Writing Tip for Today: I get “better” ideas as I write my stories. People ask me when is the right time to add in these afterthoughts–as you’re “junking it through” or after your draft is complete and in revisions? Here’s what I do:

  • To Go Back or Not to Go Back? About 1/3 to 1/2 through the draft, I almost always get a great idea for deepening my story. If the change is super huge, I’ll sometimes go back and “plant” this addition to arise gradually through the story. If it’s more of an embellishment than a major plot point, I’ll probably wait until the draft is finished, then add in these smaller changes as I revise.
  • Track Your Scenes. At the halfway mark of your draft, start writing down a one sentence description of each scene. Use a simple list, sticky notes, a white board or index cards–but do keep track. Record page numbers, even if they change. You’ll be surprised at how much you can forget about your own story.
  • Write Plot Points Separately. I usually find that I’m more successful with adding in major plot developments if I write the plot point separated from the manuscript as a whole. When I’m satisfied with the outcome, I can try out several spots for plaxcement in the actual text.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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