Tag Archives: plotting

When the Novelist’s Imagination Kicks In

Plots GaloreBe A Novelist

I have a book on my library shelf entitled, 20 Master Plots (And How to Build Them). The plot themes (or ideas) range from escape, to adventure, to rivalry, to transformation, to forbidden love, and on and on. You get the picture.

Another similar book, which I have read, but is not in my library, is Georges Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations.

Now to these we can add in lists of genres such as romance, western, young adult, fantasy, and on and on (again on and on!). Infinite varieties of plot and plot ideas.

What’s the point here? The point is that there is a foundation, or a skeleton, of the novel that you are planning to write.

One Plot; Many Stories; All Dull

If a plot outline were given to a dozen novelists and if those writers were to write novels from those outlines – you’re getting ahead of me – none of them would be the same. (You knew what I was going to say, right?)

Be A NovelistActually, this was done in years past when an editor passed out a plot to several writers and asked each to write a short story from that one plot. This editor then went on to publish them in an anthology. While some of the stories were okay, most were quite dull. Why? What was missing? Passion. Passion was the missing ingredient.

Passion Required

Whatever its potential, a plot has no value unless it appeals to you, personally. It is absolutely the writer’s deep passion (or caring) for the story, for the characters, even perhaps for the setting, that breathes vibrant life into a novel.

This then is where the novelist’s imagination comes into play.

The Simple Accomplishment

Plots are public domain. You enjoy one every time you read a novel, watch a movie, or watch a television drama. The best Be A Novelistapproach is to use these plot ideas, but try not to abuse them. After all, artists of all types take their first baby steps by studying the masters, whether it’s painters, dancers, entertainers or what have you.

The plot then is a fairly simple accomplishment. The use of your imagination comes in the next stage – that stage following the determination of how the plot will be structured. This stage is when you choose how to arrange your viewpoint, your time scheme, your characters; which features will stand out and remain in the reader’s mind after the last page has been read.

It’s your imagination that constructs the story line, and in turn controls the story line. Can a writer deliberately harness that imagination? Imagination is certainly a faculty that all writers possess, but can it be invoked?

Plot Problem

After the plot structure is determined (or fairly well determined), and the story is moving forward, what if all of a sudden it seems flat and uninspired, and clomps along rather heavy-footed?

It is now time for a critical assessment. Back up and reassess. Where was your imagination taking you? And why?

Often the fault can be traced to one particular ingredient, one episode, one character who is not pulling his/her weight. Perhaps your imagination went to sleep along the way, and you allowed everything to down-shift. This is oftentimes where discouragement sets in and the entire novel is pushed aside.

Be A NovelistNo Stopping Allowed

Don’t do it. Don’t stop. No matter what, don’t even think about stopping. It’s not the entire novel that’s at fault. Ask yourself:

  • Can the problem character be replaced or omitted?
  • Can the weak incident be replaced or omitted?


Try different approaches. Let your imagination play with different solutions to the problems your characters face.

While you will not stop, you can slow down. In this kind of revision, a leisurely pace is often the best. The imagination can be a balky faculty; it doesn’t really like to be hurried.

Look around you at other people – in the store, at the library, on the bus, at the civic meeting. What are they saying? How are they acting – or reacting?

Listen to sounds – music, bird songs, thunder, traffic, cacophony. How do the sounds affect you? How do they affect your character(s)?

Take a deep breath — what do you smell? What do the smells bring to mind? How does a smell affect your mood? How do certain smells affect your character(s)?

Your answer is there. Look for it. Expect it. Don’t allow your imagination to rest or get lazy. Keep it stimulated.

Harness the Work Horse

It’s almost like a trick or a deception (only a novelist would understand) that the plot idea came so easily. After all, as I pointed out, there are entire books that list them. But then the real work – the real struggle – begins. Now is when that imagination (the work horse) is harnessed, and trained, and used to the hilt.

NOTE: Here’s another blog from the archives  that also  talks about imagination. Check this out.

Be A Novelist

Be A Novelist

Be A NovelistThe Norma Jean Lutz Classic Collection now has three 3 available titles.

These clean teen reads, while authored in the past, offer timeless story lines that teens love.


Be A Novelist


What is Your Favorite Way to Study Your Craft?

Study Your Craft 
There are so many ways to hone your novel-writing skills. How do you personally study and learn about novel writing?  What is your favorite way?
Be A Novelist
  • Do you have shelves of how-to books in your private library?
  • Do you find sites online? (Like Be A Novelist?)
  • Do you read tomes of your favorite genre novels?
  • Do you take a novel apart and analyze it?

Whatever method you choose, my strongest admonition is to — without fail — study your craft!  It’s imperative that you seek out whatever way works best for you.  (Everyone learns differently.)

Respect Your Readers

Determine to never let it be said of you that you just slapped a story together without learning the finer points of fiction writing.  If you choose that route, you will do your readers no favors.  (Check out this perspective about your readers.)

The more intense your desire to hone your skills and learn your craft, the more respect you show toward your readers. And after all that IS who you are writing for, right?  I mean, it’s not all about you. You, as author, are merely the messenger.  The vehicle. The channel.  (Whatever metaphor you may choose!)

Bottom line, that’s what Be A Novelist is all about.  Providing not only a place for support and encouragement, but also a brimming-full reservoir of educational resources and materials.

Be sure to let me know how this program can be improved to help you further.

Have you made a decision to get that unfinished novel out of the mothballs? Are you resolved that this is the year that it WILL be completed? Here’s your helping hand. Your motivator. Your encourager. Your cheerleader. Your coach!

Be A NovelistTired of the struggle writing your book? Need a helping hand? Norma Jean’s Coaching Services may be the answer you’re looking for. Fill out the questionnaire on the page and let’s see if we’re a fit. A FREE consultation gets the ball rolling. (Or the pen writing!) Click HERE!

If you ever have any questions, please leave a comment on the page or email me at: NormaJean@beanovelist.com