Phases of a Story: The Flowing Liquid of Plot

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This one might be easier than I expected because we’ve heard the comparison as much as the solid foundation phrase.  So, what is something that comes to mind when you think of a liquid?  Oceans, drinks, showers, baths, streams, rivers, rain . . . I’ll be right back.  *toilet flush and washing of hands sounds*  Didn’t think that list through.  Anyway, most people probably thought of something along the lines of flowing.  I hope because you could also have considered that liquid is wet, takes the ‘shape’ of its container, and a few other things that don’t work for my post.

Authors need to have their stories flow in a way that the reader doesn’t feel like they’re in stop and go traffic.  This goes for word-to-word all the way up to beginning-to-end.  If the story is choppy or so twisty that nothing makes sense then you won’t have many people getting to the end.  Many of those who finish your book might do it out of a deep sense of determination or simply want to spite you as if you didn’t want them to get to the last, precious page.  Either way, you need to get a good flow going, which can be accomplished with a variety of methods that can also be combined.

  1. Outlining can help gather your thoughts and lay down the groundwork for the story before you begin.  This allows your mind to already have the pieces and they will get shaped as you do the first draft.  It might not create a perfect flow, but you’ll find the transitions are less surprising to you.  Foreshadowing may be easier to establish as well because you know what’s coming.  These connections help to extend the flow of the plot over the entire work.
  2. Beta readers will tell you if your story isn’t working.  Saying that things don’t fit or the flow is wrong is fairly common.  This bypasses an author’s ability to fill in the blanks inside their own head.  We can read our own stories and think it’s clear as day because we know it all.  The messy flow is sorted in our minds as we read, so we are blind to this issue.  Beta readers don’t have this weakness, which makes them great at pointing out this problem.
  3. Editing specifically for the flow, which can go hand-in-hand with beta readers.  Force yourself to focus on how things are moving along and block those pre-existing notions that will get in the way.  This is actually harder than one thinks because you can become distracted by typos and switch lanes.  Take a lot of breaks to make sure you remain focused.

This is really what the liquid phase is about when it comes to the story.  Not just the flow, but the malleability of the piece.  Solids can’t be molded as easily as liquid and gases are even worse.  So, this phase/stage is where you can do the most crafting upon that core you previously developed.  This isn’t only for the story itself too.  You need to consider the malleable flow of your overall world to make sure it fits together and any connected works must be attached to what you have done.  If the movement from one series to the other is shoddy and stunted then it will feel like they shouldn’t be connected at all.

So, what do you think of the ‘liquid’ phase of writing?  Do you have another way to explain this analogy?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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24 Responses to Phases of a Story: The Flowing Liquid of Plot

  1. L. Marie says:

    Great tips, Charles! I think you’ve captured the liquid phase very well. I also think that simply reading the story out loud helps with flow. Often as I have heard the words out loud, I have spotted words or phrases that messed up the flow.

    I also think in terms of knowing which characters are the right ones to carry a story. I started one in which I had a character who just wasn’t working. The story was a chore to write. When I switched over to another main character, the writing flowed.


  2. Checking a story for flow using beta readers is the way to go. Sometimes the author is too close to see some of the barriers to that flow. Super Post, Charles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post. You know how much I like a good analogy. You have me thinking about the thousand foot waterfall at the end of Act II.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So if the solid part of a story is the underlying theme (for example, “atonement” or “escape”), the liquid part is the plot and characters that play out the theme, flowing along through rapids and backwaters and the occasional waterfall.


  5. I love the analogy… sadly, my writing is more like “the rocky road of writing; all boulders and pitfalls along the way”


  6. Reblogged this on Author Don Massenzio and commented:
    Check out this great post from Charles Yallowitz via the Legends of Windemere blog with Phases of a Story: The Flowing Liquid of Plot


  7. Staci Troilo says:

    I love this analogy, Charles.


  8. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  9. CP Bialois says:

    Reblogged this on The BiaLog and commented:
    An interesting read. Thanks! 🙂


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