Plot Your Novel, with Rachel Aaron’s Five Step Program

So you understand tension and you’ve dramatically increased your word count, and you’re ready to get started with your new novel. Where should you begin? With the plot. I’ve talked about it before–some people are planners and some people fly by the seat of your pants. I’m a planner. I love making lists, outlines, and all sorts of notes. Rachel Aaron is a planner too. She has developed a detailed five step plan to plot your novel.

I won’t spoil all the surprises here and rob Rachel of the pageviews she deserves. But there are three thing I liked most about the system. First, it plugs into her word count system very nicely, making sure your novel has enough tension in the plot and that you are still excited about writing it. Second, the system is robust: before you start writing, you have a great understanding of the plot, the characters, and the setting; And third, the work is frontloaded so that you don’t have to toss a week’s worth of work due to a stupid mistake. Put this system into place, and writing your novel should be less painful than had you decided to improvise. To me, Rachel’s system is about efficiency, and if you’re going to put in the time to write a 75,000-100,000 word novel, that’s a plus.

My only quibble with the system is that it really shines if you use Scrivener (which Rachel does). I’m more of a pen and paper guy, so I’d probably need a few (paper) files or white boards to keep all the info her system generates. The again, using this system might buying Scrivener worth it (the cutting and pasting alone would mean a big time saver).

Anyway, that’s it. Enjoy your weekend. And if you found some useful tips in my posts, please let me know. And let Rachel know too (you can find her on Twitter and Facebook). And if you prefer a different system, let me know too. I always want to write better.

And yes, I know. I usually only post once or twice a day. So what’s with the three post Friday? Don’t worry, it probably won’t become a thing. I just happened to come across a new writer, really liked what I saw, and wanted to share it with everyone. What’s wrong with that? Besides, three posts before a three day weekend. I like symmetry. Anyway, I don’t think it’ll be as long as the others, so think of this as a lagniappe (a Louisiana term for “a little something extra”).

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