My Books

Buy one of my books... Available above at Amazon. Also available at SmashWords, Barnes & Noble and iTunes

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where Is Your Plot Going? Incorporating A Wonderful New Idea

I thought I'd write a short post today about plot and where it wanders to during the writing of your manuscript. If you're anything like me you have a great idea for a book, you make a few notes and then you start writing. Then, somewhere in the writing of the manuscript you get this wonderful new idea...

It's what you do with that wonderful new idea that will determine exactly how your book turns out. If you run with it at a hundred miles per hour then the chances are your manuscript has just taken a huge left turn, never to return to its original story line. If you ignore it then you'll be writing the rest of your novel regretting never having explored the possibilities. So that just leaves some kind of middle path. The secret to exploiting this wonderful idea is to work out exactly how it fits into your current story. You mustn't shove it in; you can't just branch a little away and touch on the edges; no, somehow you have to use the best of the idea and encourage it to fit into your existing story. That can be tough but one way is to let the new idea percolate a little. Over a couple of days. Explore some different plot twists involving the new idea and then see how they each play out. After a few of these exercises you'll know just what to do with it.

Now all you need to do now is incorporate the new idea into the existing plot. Don't force it. Take your time. Weave it into the existing story. You may even need to go back and rewrite a few pieces to set it all up. Like I said, take your time. The reason for this is it probably is a really wonderful idea; it just needs full integration. If you don't do this part correctly it will show and there's nothing worse than a forced plot change that sticks out like a bruised thumb on a delicate hand. So chill, sip a glass of wine and smile. New ideas are wonderful things. They're what make the essence of an author into a great author.

Have a great day...


  1. Good advice--to resist the temptation to run with it pellmell, while taking full advantage of the delicious possibilities...

  2. I had come to the end of my murder mystery, when the characters cried out that I had pinned the crime on the wrong suspect -- they were right, so I had to go over the whole manuscript and pin it on the right suspect

  3. I wrote a similar, if less eloquent, post on my blog about this. I am at present, going through my book, line by line, seeing where I can add small amounts of information, references, or dialogue to make the new plot point fit in (hopefully) seamlessly. It takes time, but it's worth it to make the new idea seem integral to the larger plot.

  4. Excellent suggestions, and pretty much exactly what I'm playing with right now. But you expressed it better.

  5. I couldn't agree more. The subconscious is a much better writer than I am, and when new ideas pop into my conscious mind, I pay attention!
    You have to go back and forth in your plot, though, to make sure the new idea fits in seamlessly. Again, you have to have an outline of your plot.
    I realized after I had finished the first two-thirds of my novel that I needed a strong love interest. So I had to go back see where it fit in, then develop the plot further to make sure I didn't leave any loose ends.
    I'm so glad I did! The rest of the story, written before I worked out how the love story fits in, hangs together much better now.
    Great advice, Paul!

  6. Spot on suggestions here. I posted something similar myself last week, in fact. The problem is that with the best of will when planning, the creative process never stops. And it shouldn't be squashed. Thanks for your post, great stuff.

    Matthew Wright

  7. Curious, do you think that Non fiction should have a 'plot' as well as an Intent?

  8. All books should have a plot...

  9. Yes, it is a wonderful process and can lead down many unexpected paths; almost as if you’re being told the story, rather than being the author. My first book took the route you said - I just started writing. But then I sat down and planned the rest. It's not to say that new ideas and paths didn't present themselves, but having that structure allowed me to easily fit those new ideas and wanderings into a coherent structure.