Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing in code

As a web developer, I tend to think in code logic when writing. It's a lot simpler than you might think:
If this happens, do A. But if this does not happen, do B. 
Writing involves a lot of this type of thinking in order to produce a story without plot holes or inconsistencies. From a reader's perspective, plot holes, inconsistent characters, and poorly executed plot escalation can leave you feeling disappointed, annoyed. or even make you ditch the story completely.
Thinking and planning a story out using this logic-based exercise will help you:
  • think through all the possible scenarios that are within the realm of your story's world,
  • keep your characters from making uncharacteristic decisions, and
  • plan escalating plot points on a large and small scale.
For example, I am currently thinking through how my antagonist, Xander, should proceed. Xander needs a promotion in order to gain access to top-secret information. He is eligible for promotion and a position is about to open up that will give him the access he needs, but the protagonist, Lana, is also being considered for the position.
With that scenario in mind, now I have to think through Xander's options and what is within his character's realm of reasonable actions. Xander is desperate to prove himself and knows the promotion is vital to gaining the top-secret information he desperately needs. Would he kill for it? Definitely.
So what are Xander's options?
  • Plan A: Xander gets the promotion. Xander gets the top-secret information.
  • Plan B: Lana gets the promotion. As runner-up, Xander can try to kill her to get the promotion. Xander gets the top-secret information.
  • Plan C: Lana gets the promotion. Xander's plan to kill Lana fails. Xander can try to coerce her or trick her into giving him the top secret information. Xander gets the top-secret information.
Believe it or not, this could be turned into a logical code sequence, like the one featured below.

How do you plan a story?

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