Writing a Middle Grade Novel – From Start to Finish: Part Two
In Part 1 of this 3-part article, you learned how to start your novel. Here are some tips and tricks for planning and writing your novel.
1. When writing your novel, start at the end and work your way back to the beginning. Where do you want your main character to end up at the end of the story? What will he/she have accomplished and how will this character have changed by the end of the story?
Think of some big climactic event for your novel and create a “ticking clock” so that your main character solves the problem of the entire story before time runs out (things need to happen quickly so that you can maintain the dramatic tension throughout the story ).
2. Write jacket flap copy for your book – just a paragraph or two to let the reader know what the story will be about. By summarizing this, YOU will also get a better idea of EXACTLY what your story is about.
3. Then think of all the steps your main character will take to get to the end. First, where does your character start? What does he/she want more than anything? What happens next to change things up a bit and make it a bit harder for your main character to get what he/she wants?
4. Turn your plot into a chapter outline. Try starting with a 12-chapter outline, although your story may end up being longer than 12 chapters. But 12 chapters makes it manageable at first. This will also help you create your story in 3 acts of 4 chapters each.
5. As you create your outline, keep the plot triangle in mind. Introduce your characters and setting in the lower left side of the triangle. Then create a rising action as you develop problems for your main character (your story begins to move up the triangle this way). All of these problems lead to the climax of your story (which is at the top of the triangle). Generally, plan the climax for chapter 10 or 11 of the story, then resolve everything in the last chapter or so.
6. For each chapter, think about what MUST happen in order for your main character to get closer to the climax and end of the story. You’ll be thinking of more complications brought on by the antagonist or other external events as you go, so don’t worry about having it all from the start.
7. As you outline, think in terms of the scenes you can create for each chapter. For the most part, plan 1 to 3 different scenes per chapter. Think about your main character. Based on what he or she is like, how can you use other characters to create an interesting subplot? In the middle class, you don’t want too many subplots, and they should be fairly simple.
Follow these tips to create a compelling plot for your story to avoid sagging in the middle! Then read Part 3 of Writing a Novel for Middle Grades – From Start to Finish with tips for finishing your manuscript!
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