Welcome back to my 12-week project in which I attempt to prepare for writing my own novel in Camp NaNoWriMo this April. You can check out the last posts here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. This week’s post will be about plotting. I’ll just warn you beforehand this is not something I am an expert on, my plot has so many holes right now you could almost sell it has high-fashion jeans.
I have been reading about this topic and it’s definitely not the easiest one, but I have thought of some tips (or found them online).
A plot should consist of three parts: the beginning, the end and all that is in between. So if you know where you begin and you know where you want to end, you can figure out a way to get there. The journey in a book can be on a small scale (for example a character development), on a big scale (for example a journey to save someone or something) and all that is in between. I think there can be three levels of plot:
- The personal development. E.g. A character that is very shy might learn to use their voice, or a character might learn that their whole idea of the world is wrong.
- The interpersonal development. Characters might become friends, enemies or lovers.
- The major story line. What is it that the characters want to achieve: fall in love, have the best summer possible, defeat the evil king of Roananrike, learn to use magic to save their mother, save the galaxy. Anything is possible.
What I think is important is that each of these three plots need a beginning and an end and these can be different per character. If you have multiple characters they can have different goals that then lead to confrontations and problems. What is holding them back from achieving their goals? Do they know beforehand what their goals are or is that something that they find out in the end? Goals can also change throughout the story.
There should be a balance between environment and character. It cannot be that all the development in the story is based on the character’s motivation or based on something that happened which is outside of the character’s reach. Moving forward should be a combination of the character wanting to do something and things happening that make the character behave in a certain way. Often if I read a book in which a character only acts a certain way because they “have to”, because that is expected of them, it gets really boring and annoying.
I would like to give as example of a set-up for a story the Eight Point Story Arc (click link for more info), which consists of the Stasis (the beginning and baseline), the Trigger (what happens to start the real story), the Quest (the purpose and journey), the Surprise (what gives the story a spin), the Critical Choice (in which the MC’s decision makes the decision to do something important for the story; the point of no return), the Climax (building the tension), the Reversal (the final “battle”), and the Resolution (in which all is resolved). As is described in this story arc, a quest or journey has surprises, triggers and choices that will eventually lead to the climax and resolution of this journey or quest. So think of it as a maze, you know where you start and where you have to end up, but there are things hidden in this maze you didn’t know beforehand. In that maze you might meet other people, find monsters, pretty lagoons, shifting walls and points-of-no-return.
So create story lines for all of your characters, and integrate them so they form one big web of adventure, struggle, confrontation, peaks,
I don’t know if this is helpful at all but I hope it was. Sorry for my absence on Friday, I was going to post my weekly Down The TBR Hole post but I felt absolutely horrible (don’t worry I feel a lot better right now).
What is your best tip for developing your plot?