What makes plot development work in a novel? There’s quite a lot to know about this, but here are some high-points.

A strong novel writer causes readers to feel they experience a slice of someone else’s (one or more characters) “real” life. Even Science Fiction and Fantasy must accomplish this in their own ways. Readers want to relate to characters in novels, whether that’s just for one novel or in a series that involves the same main characters throughout. It’s up to you as a writer to create this for readers. You do this through plot and character development.

Your job as a writer is to make readers forget they’re reading. The way to accomplish this is to create a movie in the minds of readers through all the ways that make a story one told well and is readable. A well-developed plot uses characters developed well and all five physical senses (and sometimes the sixth sense).

A strong writer makes every effort to show rather than tell. This is done by providing settings, scenes, and characters readers can easily visualize in their minds and relate to, but through only as much exposition as is actually needed. It’s better to more often merge exposition with what characters say and do than provide it solely or primarily through narrative. Too much narrative can easily become tedious to contemporary readers.

Cause readers to feel the tension created by what happens through events large and small, and between one or more characters. Readers expect to feel something when they read. As a writer, it’s up to you to make this the smoothest experience for readers as possible. This means you must remove anything (or strive to) such as typos, misspelled words, wrong or extra words, or any scene that detracts from the reader’s experience, even if you absolutely love it.

The plot needs to follow a logical and believable path. Again, even in Science Fiction or Fantasy, there are enough elements included that allow readers to relate to what’s happening as possible. What a plot should never be is a story filled with action scenes you add characters to, like refrigerator magnets stuck on to fill up space. Nothing should ever be included on a page of a novel that doesn’t belong there, that doesn’t move plot and character development forward. Plot is and should be about the characters—what they say and do as they contend with events when they happen and as a result of them. As best-selling author Elizabeth George said, “You never want to give readers characters in search of a plot.”

Events should influence characters, and characters should influence events. As part of plot, readers expect characters to do certain things: Face challenges, make decisions—wrong or right, and learn and evolve (or devolve) in some way. At the end of each scene, ask yourself what changed about the characters and the plot as a result of the scene. If nothing changed, you either need to rewrite the scene so that something does change, even if it’s a small shift, or delete the scene entirely. No page filler allowed. Story is meant to be like a thread you pull on a sweater and you watch what it unravels. You want the thread to be clean and even—no knots or anything that doesn’t belong there that will jam up the flow. Plot develops as a series of events that follow an original event—like a lit match placed to a fuse.

Plot involves conflict, and conflict comes in many forms, not just drastic ones. Conflict is the result of what is said and done by characters in the story, as a result of weather and nature, and by any number of initiators. But whatever is said or done or happens, one thing should always lead to the next, in a logical way, just as it does in life. Again, nothing should ever be included just to fill the page or create more length for the novel. Everything on every page must contribute to plot and character development.

“Story is about mastering the art, not second-guessing the marketplace.” – Robert McKee

I wish you the best with your writing and progress.

Author's Bio: 

Need a Book Doctor or an incentive to write or complete your manuscript? Let Joyce L. Shafer be your writing coach, developmental editor, or provide a critique. Details about her services at http://editmybookandmore.weebly.com/