First, I just want to say hello to anyone reading this. It's my very first time posting here, so I hope I do alright. Feel free to leave comments or questions below.
Today the topic is developing a plot. Let's be honest, there's not exactly room here for a huge essay about different techniques, examples, etc. Instead I wanted to bring up a couple things that I, as a new writer, have discovered to be essential to planning out my writing.
Time: Decide on a time frame. It can be from the beginning of the history or background to the very end. Or it can be from the moment the plot actually gets rolling until it stops (I'll call this a story frame).
For example, there could be a 10 year time frame, which would include all the background/sub-plots/characters like an older generation. Inside that could be, let's say, a 3 year story frame, in which the reader follows your main characters. It doesn't have to be as specific as the exact number of days, but a general idea is good to have. Once you have that, figuring what should happen at the beginning, at the end and in between should be easier.
Furthermore, you can basically divide up the time even further through seasons or similar periods of time (this is more likely to appear in an entirely fictitious town or city). I'll include an example from my super secret work-in-progress. Well, it's not that important...just that no one knows about it but me!
I recently decided on around 6-10 years as my time frame with 1 year as my story frame. So the reader would follow my main characters for about a year. Within that year, there are 3 separate periods of time. Note that I'm ignoring the traditional 4 seasons/year concept, because I'm writing in more of a fantasy style. I won't get into details about what goes on in each and how they transition. But deciding this is important to my plot. It's the basis for everything that's going to happen and how I will move between events. With this information, I can begin to figure out how the characters change and interact.
Want to read about believability and mood in relation to time frames? Here's a link to another post here on Cherry Tree Notes.
Balance: Start working on some action scenes and some emotional scenes. Try not to neglect one or the other during planning or the actual writing part, because there should by the end be a good amount of both. Now there's obviously no set number, because it depends on your characters, the frame(s) you've chosen and whether or not you're in a different world. While you need to keep the readers excited or anxious with scenes like chases or fights, remember there must still be room for characters to express emotions, learn about each other and grow at a slower pace.
Also, you've probably heard this before, but I think it's a good idea. Look at some of your favorite books or even ones you don't care for. Analyze how they've combined events to create a balance (or if they were unsuccessful in your opinion, what you would change). And consider the time frame, story frame and growth of their characters. Make notes if that helps.
I can't tell anyone what to write about or exactly how to show it. But I can offer this: don't be afraid to explore and experiment with setting, characters, and themes. Write about something meaningful and serious, or be weird and silly if you wish. Just remember to start with structural elements.