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Mastering Suspense, Structure, and Plot by Jane Cleland

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Chapter Three

Jane’s Plotting Road Map

What is character but the determination of incident? What is incident but the illustration of character?

—Henry James

I write from a detailed synopsis, and I encourage you to do the same—or at least to give it a try. To some people, adopting this kind of methodical approach is the antithesis of innovation. To me, it fosters creativity and helps traverse the landscape of conflicting and confusing choices like a sextant guides a sailor across the sea. Without an organizational scaffold, ideas are likely to slip away while confusion snowballs. My synopsis is a formal written document, but whether you outline, organize your plot points on index cards, or are one of the few able to keep it all in your head, ...

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