The Storyline?

by Tiegan
(New South Wales, Australia)

Question: I don't even know how to begin my story, and what events I should use. Would the best way to get the story going is to create and get to know the characters, and then build the plot around them?

Answer: Some writers begin by creating characters and then imagine putting them in situations where they have problems to confront. They do this until a plot emerges, eventually.

A larger number of writers begin with a plot outline of some kind and then create characters to serve the story.

However, most people are not strictly one or the other. You might begin with an idea for one character and build a plot outline around that person. Or you might start with a little plot idea, create a few characters, go back and flesh out the plot some more, discover you need more characters, etc.

A third approach is to begin with an idea of the message you want to convey (a premise) or the subject you want to explore and then design your characters and plot to serve that purpose.

How much preparation you do before you start writing varies quite a bit. Some people (plotters) will create an extensive and detailed outline. Others (pantsers) may have only the sketchiest of ideas.

If you're the kind of person who tends to get stuck part-way, uncertain what should happen next, then I recommend becoming a plotter. With a good outline, you will always know where your story is headed.

If you feel that an outline is too much of a straightjacket and you have no problem writing off the top of your head, then you're probably a pantser at heart.

Either way, I recommend you create at least a brief, one-paragraph outline. This article will show you how to do this in a dramatically sound way...

If you follow the other articles on the "Write a Novel" tab ( you can make as detailed an outline as you need - one that is very complete in terms of both internal and external story.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Plot Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero