Is my plot enough?

by Layla Riggs
(Helena, MT)

Question: I'm writing a young adult novel about a boy who comes to Italy to study art for the summer and starts falling in love with the son of the host family he is staying with but does not want to admit that he might have feelings for another boy and they also find out near the begging of chapter 5 that there's a more sinister reason the family moved back to Italy that connects the two families through murders and missing children.


Is it enough?

Well, I see two elements here...

On the one hand you have an overall suspense story, in which a trap may be closing in on the main character. At the same time you have a romance between the two young men. That puts this into the genre of romantic suspense. So far, so good. It suggests that the key to the main character escaping from the trap is to learn to trust his love interest.

As a starting point for a story, this is fine.
Obviously, there will be a lot more to it than what you can summarize in a paragraph. I suggest you refer to these two articles for help on how to structure and develop your plot...

How much you choose to develop your story before you start writing (versus how much you make up
on the fly as you go along) depends on you. You always want to feel empowered -- like you're excited about the story and you have a clear grasp on what the plot will be, and the characters, and you know what big turning point you are building up to. You also may need to be clear on details such as the physical setting and the social milieu of the story.

Sometimes, if you don't yet feel empowered, it's best to take some time to outline your story until you reach a point where you feel empowered, and then start writing. Don't feel you have to plan everything. Start with the broad strokes and when the story feels clear and you are excited by it, start writing.

Other times, if your initial idea has you already feeling excited and empowered, it's best to just start writing. If you reach a point where you get stuck or you're not sure where the story is heading, take a step back and start thinking, planning, outlining your story until you get clarity and you feel excited again. Then go back to writing.

You don't have to stick with your outline. You may find you need to revise your outline at some point. But use the outline as a way to keep a grasp on the story as a whole.

Best of luck.

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