The hardest thing about writing (I think) is plotting the story. Ideas come so fast and easy, most writers have trouble keeping track of them. Characters create themselves in our minds all the time. It's the whole pulling a story together - beginning, middle, and end - that creates most writers' problems. Or maybe it's just me...
When writing a story, I find the best way to keep from going crazy is to plot the whole thing out. Of course, I have a hard time doing that. My mind wants to just start telling this wonderful story without taking the time to give it some sort of structure. I'm trying to get better about doing outlines.
Here is a nice list of ways to "plot, plan and prep" a story. I like the "Reverse Outline" plan best because if I am forced to write the end of my story, I'm forced to take my eyes away from the beginning - which is what usually comes into my head first. Also, I've found that it's easier to not only start with the ending, but to then just work my way backward through to the start. (I am thinking of trying the "Dialogue Only" method for another story.)
It helps to understand the different plot types. I never thought about this before, but it does help to know the difference between plot and structure.
If you like using software to plot your story, there's this one with a free trial. This blog lists some suggestions for other software.
Some writers like using worksheets. I like some types of worksheets, while others are not helpful to me personally. I do (sort of) like story-mapping, and some folks prefer mind-mapping. (Maybe I'm just biased to the other helpful stuff this blog lists.) There are more charts and guides throughout this page.
Another resource for helps in plotting is Tumblr. If you go in and do a search on #plot, #plots, and #plotting, you'll get more than you could wish for.
Of course, writing is the key. You have to eventually get away from the plotting, mapping and charting in order to just write. Right? Right.
If anyone has more suggestions for plotting helps (or software), share the info.
P.S.: Big thanks to all the bloggers and other folks who support writers by supplying these charts and links to software.
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