Okay, so this is your first story and you're full of excitement. Your novel sets off with a cracking idea, which is of course your main conflict - it is isn't it? So, what to do next?
Now you must engineer, in the most natural way you can, one fascinating problem after another. There must be nothing contrived about them, no coincidences, misunderstandings, or Acts Of God. The problems should come in a sequence of highs and lows, one sub-plot interweaving with another.
The most extraordinary point of your plot should not be reached until immediately before the end of your novel.
At this point, all subplots should be well out of the way. This ultimate peak of drama should come about only from the main conflict.
Coupled with, and part of, this extraordinary point, should be the darkest moment of the story.
The central characters must seem to be up against a wall, but make sure you don't make this absolute dilemma so Byzantine there is no way out. Each time you dream up a situation, scrutinize it. Work out how it affects the protagonists, and the previous and following parts of the plot.
Your reader must be persuaded there is no way to resolve the dilemma – until suddenly, wham, bang, all is unravelled and the story is over. Do it quickly. Tie up all loose ends, leave no threads hanging.
So it's the end. It’s all over and the book is finally closed. Your reader MUST now be absolutely satisfied the protagonists have conquered every problem.
Readers should feel that your novel was about credible people facing tolerable difficulties who found rational solutions. If they don't, you're in trouble!
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