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PLOTTING BY DESIGN

plotting-ladyPlotting a book doesn’t happen by accident, it must be designed. Just as a baker needs a recipe, a seamstress needs a pattern, and a builder needs a blueprint, a writer does best with a plot.

Structuring your manuscript doesn’t have to be hard. A plot is simply like a road map. It doesn’t mean you won’t take detours or hit potholes along the way. It doesn’t even mean you’ll stay on the right road — but it will guide you.  It provides the parameters and guides along the way to help you reach your destination.

There are many different ways people have plotted their books -and I’m probably the worst for putting all my notes, outlines, character sketches, and everything else in one notebook.   I have found, however, that using a simple template or spreadsheet certainly helps in keeping timelines straight and remembering who has blue eyes and who has red hair.

Here are a couple of free sheets to help you get your manuscript plotted.

CHARTING SPREADSHEET

PLOT TEMPLATE

 

 

 

Grammar-ease: Ellipsis versus the em-dash

Use of Ellipses can sometimes be confusing. Lisa J. Jackson gives great advice in this article.

Live to Write - Write to Live

The ellipsis, three dots seen in text, signifies a pause within a character’s dialogue or missing text within quoted material.

The em-dash indicates an interruption in speech or to emphasize a phrase.

The ellipsis is always three dots: “…”.  Always three, no more and no less. Style guidelines vary as to whether or not to use an ending period if the ellipsis is at the end of a sentence. Some guidelines are satisfied with no final period.

The em-dash has history: in the day of the typewriter, an em-dash was represented by double hyphens amounting to the width of a capital “M” from the keyboard. With computers, you can format or insert an em-dash easily and it’s used to indicate an interruption within dialogue, or to emphasize a certain phrase. There is never a space before or after an em-dash.

I find examples helpful, so here are a few.

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