Writing from a Sequence of Events

I’ve just realised one major mistake to my approach of transferring plots (or events) to words and this is what I will be sharing in this post. In case you haven’t figured it out, this blog is really more about sharing what I’ve learnt about writing and since I’m just freshly into being a wannabe writer as opposed to hobby writer, my posts will be more centred on how I tackle my mistakes rather than an article centre for all writing related things.

All right, preambles aside, let me first define what I see as the difference between event and plot so that we are all on the same level (not because I’m condescending but just in case everyone has their own definitions which are all different from mine, I’m not using any standard definition out of Fiction Writing 101 so it’s very possible). Event we all know, my own definition of plot is as follows: a plot is a sequence of events with a particular shape or theme.

Now, onto my personal discovery: I’m a bit of a planning freak and my most extensive planning is definitely for the plot aspect of a story. I would go through 7 different stages until I finally have a plan for each scene in each Chapter throughout a book before actually starting on it in spreadsheet form. On this spreadsheet, I summarise the events occurring in each scene in one-liners.  Then in Word, I have to actually pin down in details how events unfold in each single paragraph for a given scene before I can actually write down anything that can go towards my word count. In other words, I’m basically writing purely from the basis of how the sequence of events happen in my story. On this basis, I happily write up to Chapter 14 until feedback from my beta reader came back that makes me go back all the way to re-write from Chapter 2 onwards. His exact words were: “I think you have run rough shod over the story thus without taking time to properly develop plot points… There is a very interesting story there which you wrote but oddly did not respect.”

What exactly was he referring to? Basically, that I’ve kept my heroine too busy with new conflicts and situations that keep coming up in her life but no resolution to any of these conflicts within the first 5 Chapters. Also, that there is no linkage whatsoever between these conflicts that the heroine is experiencing. So what have I tracked down to be the cause of this mistake? The astute of you will probably pick it up already, it’s because I never check all my Chapters link up together. My way of saving each Chapter as separate docs makes worse this oversight. I also do not make adequate planning in advance for exactly how plot hooks that I’ve unconsciously planted, as in I know vaguely how they unfold but never thought about how to properly shepherd them in a given Chapter. Another thing that was picked up by my beta reader in relation to this was that in one scene, I introduced a minor character (who would act as a hook for character and plot development later) and she did nothing at all in the scene, just went by and said hi, prompted some minor changes in behaviour in the other characters before walking off again.

What actions am I putting in place to deal with this? Well, I’m not ditching the saving each Chapter separate habit because it makes editing easier for me in terms of addressing comments from my beta reader. So I’m thinking to take the time out to write a short paragraph of synopsis of last Chapter at the start of going onto a new Chapter. I can probably start making a plot summary document that tracks down the main plot and sub-plots that I’m putting into the story (have I already said that I’m a sub-plot maniac? It doesn’t help that I’m planning to write a 5-book series). I actually made one earlier for a work that I abandoned but somehow when I was planning the current book, the plots and sub-plots were just too fuzzy in my idea and I couldn’t make the same for it.

If you have insights about a similar issue or just want to let your opinion be known, you’re welcome to leave a comment. Otherwise, thanks for reading this post.

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