Should writers know their ending from the beginning?
What is the best way to plot a novel?
Some authors famously claim never to plot (which I’ve always believed to be ludicrous!); others don’t begin writing until they have a meticulous plan in place. For me the best way to plot a novel is to begin with the grand idea: the oh-my-god twist, the incredible finale, the amazing concept, or the fantastic story-within-a-story that justifies the existence of your book. If you don’t have one of these, then don’t bother writing it. If you do, then develop your plot around this central idea. This is the beating heart of your story, and must be celebrated as such. For me, as a crime novelist, this means knowing the crime, who committed it, why they did it, and how they did it. In other words: what, why, who, and how. By answering each of these in detail, I have the outline of my plot. Then I put flesh on the bones. I bring in other suspects, and sub-plots, and room for character development. I plot out a timeline, and the trajectory of each character along that timeline. I bring in twists and turns. For every plot point you create you must sit back and say: will this engage the reader? If not, throw it out. Bin it. Set fire to it, and begin again.