Writing Advice: Foundations


Although plotting a story can be a fun process, I sometimes struggle with it. At times, my plotting process begins with a mess of words, typed quickly and with no punctuation marks into a blank document. I have a hard time moving on from that initial step. I’ve tried out character questionnaires, in which you answer questions in the guise of your characters to better understand them. I’ve also tried the Snowflake Method, which can sometimes be helpful. But, for the most part, I’ve tried to create my own plotting methods.

But I’m always on the lookout for more techniques I can fold into my own process, as I’m sure you are. On the Pretentious Title blog (yes, that’s its name), author Rachel Aaron wrote about some methods that she uses for planning a writing project. I found this post really helpful, particularly the section in which she talked about creating a foundation. Rachel writes:

” …I’ve discovered that taking a day to do one extra step of refinement can save you weeks of trouble down the line. At this stage I’ve got my plot, I know my characters, my world has its history, rules, and feel, so now it’s time to start pouring the concrete details that will support my novel through the writing and edits to come.”

I like that Rachel likens this process to pouring concrete and connects that to making a foundation for your story. Once you have the general bits of information, which can be like tent poles or other foundational pillars, you need to fill in the rest of the space with richness and details to make your story more complete. As she says, having these details nailed down ahead of time will support your novel when you enter the actual writing phase of your project.

If you are plotting a new story right now, as I am, I wish you the best of luck! And if you’re already in the middle of the writing process, happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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