I have to say, I love coming up with these strange and funny titles for my blog posts. Definitely one of my favorite things about posting….anyway, as the title suggests, I’m going to talk to you about plotting today. I’m going to be honest; plotting is not my strong suit. I love the idea of writing something without knowing where you’re going. I do that with poems all the time and I try to do it with prose as well. The problem is, when you’re working on a larger work such as a novel, this gets to be really hard towards the second quarter of the manuscript. You start realizing at that point that every time you sit down to write, it’s becoming more and more tedious. This kills your motivation.
Thanks to a brilliant horror writer named Dan Wells, I feel that I have the tools necessary to become a plotter. Dan was really struggling with the endings to his stories, and found that he was often re-writing them several times over before he was satisfied at all. When he discovered this secret in a Star Trek Role Playing guide, he realized that it was completely applicable to all kinds of stories, and started using it to help him pen those elusive endings while creating stronger stories at the same time.
I’m hoping to use this seven-point system to keep me on track with my NaNoNovel and if it works well, I might just start using it for most of my projects. Below I will attempt to summarize the elements and the ideas behind them very briefly, for those who don’t want to look beyond my blog; but I encourage you to check out either the Writing Excuses podcast, where I first introduced to this, or better yet, look at the you-tube postings of Dan’s workshop, where he explains this system in a very full manner. Of course you could also do both…or all three, rather…. Okay, enough rambling, here it is.
This is where you first introduce the readers to the main character. It usually shows him/her in a very opposite state from where they are in the Resolution. For example, if they are a strong hero who defeats a powerful villain in the Resolution, they would start out being a very weak person.
Plot Turn I
The first Plot Turn is the “call to adventure”. It’s the thing that happens to turn the main character’s world on its head and throw everything off. This is what kicks off the story.
The first Pinch serves the purpose of challenging the main character. They are put into a situation where they must use their skills in order to get out of it. Maybe they fall into a trap. Maybe their friends are incarcerated, leaving them to fight someone by themselves. It could be anything, but it must challenge them.
As Dan points out, this is where the main character goes from reaction to action. Instead of sitting idly by while chaos happens around them, they decide to do something about it. They decide to take matters into their own hands.
The second Pinch is similar to the first one, but the consequences are greater. The second Pinch is more dramatic and holds greater threats.
Plot Turn II
The second Plot Turn is very characteristic of what one would think of as a “turn”. It actually turns the plot around quite literally. The second Plot Turn is usually the moment in which the main character understands what he needs to do/acquires the tools to do so.
This is the actual “doing” part. The Resolution brings about the climax of the story and usually shows the main character in a very opposite state from where he/she was in the beginning.
This is just a tiny explanation of the system. Below are the links to the Writing Excuses podcast, and the comprehensive 5-part video, in which Dan goes into a full explanation of everything, laden with excellent examples.
I really want to thank Dan Wells for indirectly helping me with this through the inter-webs, and I’d also like to thank Steven Long, Christian Moore, Kenneth Hite, and Owen Seyler for their awesome book that brought Dan into using this system and there-by, introduced me to it 🙂