7 Excellent Plotting Tips from Agatha Christie

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

7 Excellent Plotting Tips from Agatha Christie

By Alex J. Coyne. 
Writer’s Wrte

In this post, we share seven plotting tips from Agatha Christie, one of the world’s most prolific and profitable mystery novelists.  Agatha Christie is still one of the world’s bestselling fiction writers. Dame Christie is credited with the creation of the modern mystery fiction genre – especially cosy mysteries.  Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot are two fictional characters that have stood the test of time. They have come to inspire the creation of countless fictional sleuths.  If you would like to improve your elements of plotting, Christie is a good author to study.

Who Was Agatha Christie?

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (born 15 September 1890, died 12 January 1976) was an English writer best known for her mystery fiction books and short stories.  Christie wrote 66 detective-style novels. Her work has sold more copies than both Shakespeare and the traditional King James Bible.  Cards On The Table and Murder On The Orient Express are just two great novels to recommend for writers who would like to know Agatha Christie better.

Here’s what writers can learn from one of the most readable and accessible authors of our time.

MUST-READ: Analysing Agatha Christie – The Best-Selling Novelist Of All Time

7 Excellent Plotting Tips From Agatha Christie

1. Start Plotting

‘There is always, of course, that terrible three weeks, or a month which you have to get through when you are trying to get started on a book. There is no agony like it.’ – Agatha Christie: An Autobiography Beginning a story is one of the most difficult parts of writing.

Writers like Stephen King and James Patterson agree. Beginning the story is sometimes more difficult than getting to the end.

What separates an ambitious writer from everyone else?

Ambitious writers write, while everyone else gets stuck thinking about writing instead.

If you want to be a writer, start by plotting your story first.

MUST-READ: What Is A Plot? – A Writer’s Resource

… Read the rest… https://www.writerswrite.co.za/7-excellent-plotting-tips-from-agatha-christie/

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Does Your Plot Need a Subplot?

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Does Your Plot Need a Subplot?

The beginning of every bestselling novel starts with “What if?” What if a jagged, black, hairline crack suddenly appeared in a clear blue sky?

If you’re a writer, your mind is already racing. You’ve turned every telescope in the world that direction, you’ve sent fighter jets up and you’ve thought of at least three main characters — a scientist to figure out what’s happening, his hysterical wife and perhaps the egotistical head of the research department who just won’t listen.

That, my friends, is how a plot becomes a novel and it is by far the most exciting part of writing fiction. But will we need a subplot?

Just for fun, let’s develop the plot a little more. While your mind is racing, jot down possible scenes. Keep it simple, you’ll have plenty of time to fill in the details later.

Scene 1. The little boy who sees it first. He glances up, his mouth drops and he stares, drawing the attention of the scientist and his wife. Put them somewhere. Are they in a park flying kites, on a busy street in their car or just walking out of a movie theater?

Scene 2. NORAD Command Center orders fighter jets to check it out.

Scene 3. A NATO Conference is interrupted with several people rushing in to whisper in the ears of various world leaders.

Just let your mind fly. Keep jotting things down until you can’t think of anything more. If you’ve written each scene on a different sheet of paper, it’s easy to go back and put them in the order you want them to occur.

Don’t worry about the ending, most of the writers I know don’t figure out the ending until much later. For the sake of this article, we’ll say we’ve thought of an ending. Now concentrate on your three main characters. You have the scientist who has to find the answer while dealing with his hysterical wife and his egotistical boss. You have the process he goes through to find the answer, and it should be enough for several hundred pages and a multitude of scenes. But suppose it’s not enough or suppose the main plot gets bogged down in boring scientific data.

A great writer will also develop a subplot – a fun story line with a new set of characters. Maybe there’s a bag lady who sees the “end of the world” in an altogether different light. Maybe she’s inherited a lot of money and a junior lawyer, in order to keep his job with a prestigious firm, is forced to encounter the street life to find her.

You now have a story within a story. If your reader momentarily loses interest in the main plot, he’ll keep reading to find out if the lawyer finds the bag lady. The subplot can also help slow down a main plot that’s moving too fast. It can give both the writer and the reader time to breath.

Even a romance novel can be given that extra boost with a subplot. So if you’re a new writer, give the idea some careful thought. It might just be the edge your novel needs to put it ahead of all the rest.

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Writing the Novel by the Numbers

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

Writing the Novel by the Numbers

(But it’s not all that easy)

By Jack Bludis awa Jack Burns

Originally titled: Mystery by the Numbers

In answer to the question about how novels get written:

There are several ways to write a novel, one is to wing it, which works if you’ve done a lot of reading and a lot of writing. Another is to do bits and pieces and string them together, this works too, but it can drive you crazy.

Most how-to books are aimed at the novice or even at the storywriter who has not yet taken on the novel.

The basics are simple — and this is how I usually do it:

  1.  Create the lead character and show him or her in action in the opening sentence — usually with some dialogue. This gets the story started. (Some [writers] may want to do a background biography of the lead character, but I usually create characters whose bios come out in the writing.)
  2.  Once you have a few characters and know where the story is going, do an outline. (I usually do the outline after I’ve done about fifty pages, maybe after three or four pages of story..)
  3.  Break the outline into chapters or sections. (It’s a good idea to have key dramatic events in the beginning, and at the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 marks of the story.)
  4.  Write the book, following the outline as best you can, but allow for interesting sidebars which may become subplots or even major plot incidents that enhance the entire work.
  5.  When you’ve done your first draft, go through it again, moving scenes for dramatic effect. In the case of the mystery, make sure you plant all the clues and red herrings you need. In other genre, make sure the required genre incidents are properly spaced. Romance novels usually don’t have a love scene on every page. Nor is the historical novel a simple recitation of fact.
  6.  Rewrite the novel with the [scene] changes. This is not necessarily a complete rewrite if you are using a computer or word processor. But, you must go through it from the first the the last page to assure consistency. [You don’t want to hold Aunt Martha’s funeral in chapter three and find her alive and well, and talking to the hero in chapter 9.]
  7.  When you’re finished, polish, polish, polish. Make it the best book you can make it — but don’t be obsessive.
  8.  Proof read like it’s a composition in English 101, for which you must get a perfect grade.
  9.  Send it out.
  10. If it gets rejected, send it out — again and again and again. Step #9 and #10 are the lesson it took me years to learn.

This may not be the best way for everybody to write a novel, but it is how I do it; and I am sure it will work for others.

___________________

The Big Switch by Jack Bludis, not by Jack Burns. It’s the first time he’s using his true name on a piece. He wrote that he doesn’t mind being known by both names, but if you look for The Big Switch at your local book store, check under the Bludis name. The Big Switch be available in July at bookstores, at Amazon and B&N on the net. (He’d prefer you to ask your local book stores about it before you buy it on the net.)

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The All Purpose Plot

FICTION:  For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.  Find what you want to know.

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn them into monsters.
- Stephen King

If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it.  If you don't ask, the answer is always no.  If you don]'t step forward, you're always in the same place.
- Nora  Roberts

For one who reads, there is no limit to the number of lives that may be lived, for fiction, biography, and history offer an inexhaustible number of lives in many parts of the world, in all periods of time.
- Louis L'Amour

I have been successful probably because I have always realized that I knew nothing about writing and have merely tried to tell and interesting story entertainingly.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle.  They read it to get to the end.  If it's a letdown, they won't buy anymore.  The first page sells that book.  The last page sells your next book.
- Mickey Spillane

All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.
- Neil Gaiman

Men always want to be a wonan's first love.  Women have a more subtle instinct: What they like is to be a man's last romance.
- Oscar Wilde

Fiction is like a spider's web, attached ever so slightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners.
- Virginia Woolf

You can fix anything but a blank page.
- Nora  Roberts

I loved words.  I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.
- Anne Rice

The All Purpose Plot

By Jack Bludis awa Jack Burns 

The basic plot work for most stories, novels and screenplays — Here it is.

A sympathetic lead character has a desperate need for something — knowledge, success, love, a solution, to avoid danger.

He or she makes an effort to reach success or achieve what he needs.

Every effort gets him farther from his goal or deeper into trouble. She doesn’t screw up. It’s just that every effort either creates or uncovers new obstacles.

Every new obstacle is larger than the last, and when he reaches the end, the last obstacle must seem insurmountable. It will require her most inventive choice to reach the desired goal.

BUT

When things look the blackest, he or she manages to get himself out of it through effort, intelligence and ingenuity.

Each scene and chapter should have this same kind of plot structure, but in the case of scenes and chapters, you have something left over — a question unanswered, a problem to be solved, or a mystery that impels the reader to read on. One trick is to have several plot threads going at once.

One thing that I have observed in most books I read — and I think it’s a carryover from what is called “the screenplay paradigm” is that there is a major twist in the story about 1/3 of the way through and another 2/3 of the way through. Usually this is a surprise or shock — the lead’s friend is really her enemy, the man she is in love with is still married, the clock on the mantle is really a bomb … and of course, you need your solution at the end. [Don’t leave any questions unanswered.

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