How to Build Stories & Dessert!

I’m currently revising the next Giovanni story. I say that like it’s a distinct step, but actually I construct stories as much as I write them, sometimes at the same time. Usually about halfway through the 1st initial burst of creative energy, I get a feel for what I really want to say and have to stop and outline what I have in mind. Plotting is a bit like building a layer cake – sweet and simple, but easier to tweak.

How do you know what goes where?

Divide total word count by 300 words per page and 10-15 pages per chapter to get the total number of chapters needed. Then introduce the main protagonist in the 1st chapter, the conflict by the 2nd, and continue to build the action in scenes of 4-5 pages with 2-3 scenes per chapter. Every 3rd scene is pivotal, either introducing or removing an obstacle, back and forth, building to the climax. The bits in between are for showing who the characters are or becoming, how they got where they are, the love interest, red herrings, etc.

I list all my ideas in a chart or spreadsheet in the chapters where I think they belong. Then I can see where I’m missing important description or have too much explication and not enough action!

Word counts and chapter lengths aren’t set in stone, but they’re pretty well established. While these guidelines might seem more prescriptive than creative, they provide a framework that lets you communicate clearly as you build the biggest and wildest tale you can imagine! How do you organize your thoughts?

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