Novel plots easily become complicated. First there are all the cool elements that can make the story unique - special objects, amazing talents, surprise connections between characters, an unusual skill or friendship. Then there are the many obstacles needed to create a compelling story: all the threats, break ups with friends, red herrings, things that go missing, thieves or liars -- the list is endless. The trouble is, the more stuff that goes into the novel plot, the more difficult it can be to revise.
I've learned this the hard way.
So my plotting tip for today is to keep the basic plot as simple as possible. It's possible to create a simple storyline but still make the story unique.
Some strategies for keeping it simple:
Keep your character's goal in mind at all times. For my current project, I wrote my main character's wants on an index card and stuck it up by my computer so it's always there to help focus my ideas.
Check to see if obstacles or cool elements fit with the story by asking why. Sometimes I hang onto an obstacle or cool element because I think it makes a story unique, but then struggle to "make it fit" when probably what I should be doing is saving it for another story.
Think about the ending and how it fits with the beginning before plotting out the middle. Once you know where the story is going and what makes sense, then you can figure out how to get there. I find it helpful to work backwards and think about what needs to happen in earlier chapters to set up the ending.
What's your best tip for keeping your plot manageable?