The 3 minute masterclass is our fantastic new feature where inspiring people we know will share short, insightful slices of advice with us. And who better to start with than one of my best author buddies, Adele Parks?
As a best-selling novelist of 16 novels that have sold over 3 million copies in the UK and been translated into 26 languages, there’s nothing Adele Parks doesn’t know about the book-writing process. Adele’s novels delve deeply into the dark side of love, family, and fidelity – she’s never afraid to write about the thorniest of issues. Her latest novel, The Stranger in my Home (read my review here) is fraught with tension and full of unexpected plot twists. In it she examines what happens when a family discover their teenage child was swapped at birth. I had a cuppa with her to pick her brain about her plotting process.
Adele’s 3 steps to the perfect plot
1. start with an interrogation
“I think of my plot for at least 6 months to a year, usually when I’m writing my previous novel. Before I start writing I interrogate my ideas to see if they will work. I might plot 10 ideas before I find the right one. I ask why is it interesting/funny/different? If it isn’t most (or all) of those things then it probably isn’t going to make a robust enough book. Once I have an idea for a plot I ask myself who would it happen to? The plot shouldn’t be there for its own sake – it should unlock the truth about a character.”
2. find the balance
“If a plot is over-complicated, your readers will lose focus as the story will lack momentum. If it’s over-simplified, a reader will quickly get bored because they’ll think they’ve worked it out. I like it when my readers think they’ve sussed out the twist, but I like to surprise them with another that they didn’t see coming. I think of it as giving them what they didn’t even know they wanted until they read it.”
3. know your ending
“The truth is, unless you know where your book is going to finish – it probably won’t. Some writers wait for the muse to strike, but I need to know exactly what’s going to happen and where each word is going so each one will work harder, be more powerful and make the book will more believable as a result. You’ll be a more confident writer if you know where the book is going.”