and folks, we think we may do a better job of answering them for you. *crosses fingers and toes*
(remember, we did just go to a writing conference, so we've got some goodies up our sleeves and pant legs.)
i mean, look at how well-written that first paragraph is. we knows what we're talking about.
Dear Pari Fait Plotter,
Can you tell me the absolute BEST way to go about organizing the plot of my novel, or if my plot is already completed, how to BEST double check that all the necessary parts are included?
Missy D Actdeux
First, what you need is a basic plot idea. You'll be able to do it. I've used the same thing with my second graders.
- Protagonist (Who)
- Goal (Wants)
- Motivation (Why)
- Conflict (But)
- Plan (So)
- Resolution (Then)
Of course, it can (and should?) get a whole lot more complicated than that. You know, since it needs to be spread out over a couple of hundred pages. Here's how:
(novels with romance include the lighter purple plot points)
1. Introduce protagonist, his/her world, (meets love interest), his/her problem (Some, seriously only the absolute necesseties, backstory to create an understanding and sympathy/empathy for your protagonist), and the inciting incident-the scene that changes your characters ordinary world and sets the plot a-moving. The protagonist may deny that he/she has to do something in order to solve the dilemma you introduced. (At this point the problem may be one for society, one your protagonist can ignore. External conflict.)
2. Give your protagonist some motivation. (first kiss) Make their problem matter more now. Maybe your antagonist has made it worse. Increase the external conflict. Add internal conflict. Now your protagonist is going to become actively involved. Only, don't make it too easy for him/her to solve the problem. After his/her first try, make the antagonist strike back!
3. Up the ante again. Add another layer to the plot. (the protag realizes love for romantic interest)Really make life difficult for your protagonist. Now is the time for them to do something so there's no turning back. His/her life will never be the same. Remember that backstory and that world you briefly introduced in the first few pages? Yeah, that's gone now. Sorry, Protag. Kiss it all buh-bye. In order to salvage the rest of his/her life, though, he/she'd better keep trying to move forward and solve the problem/defeat the antagonist!
4. No matter how hard he/she fought, this is the point when all appears to be lost. The external conflict is winning. Your protagonist is weak, hopeless, and fears he/she will never meet his/her external/internal goal. What else can your protagonist do/sacrifice to get out of the horrid mess you put them in? What choice will he/she make? How will he/she grow as a character?
5. She/he figures it out (creates a noble plan), faces the antagonist in one, final climatic scene...and wins! (protag and love interest come together) How can you bring this accomplishment, this new world, back around to meet with the opening scene? How did your opening scene mirror this finale? How did your character change from how they handled the inciting incident to how they overcame the final dilemma?
with the help of presenters: http://www.loridevoti.com/, Josie Brown and Christopher Mohar and my writing notes from the Writer's Institute
Dear Chari C. Tar,
My characters either lay a little flat or else jump all over the radar on the personality scale. How can I make sure I'm being true to their true emotions and write them to act appropriately to each situation without making my readers feel like they have multiple personality disorders or have been run over by a steam roller five too many times?
Ira N. Ator
There are many different ways writers develop their characters.
One way is to use an enneagram. To learn more about the nine personality types go here. This is to ensure you know your character's main personality and therefore can better understand his/her wants/needs/fears. Of course, once you choose/recognize which type your character is, you may "borrow" from the neighboring types on the enneagram. The way I find this most helpful is it may help you to understand how your character may react to a situation/person when under stress (the opposite type on the enneagram). The key to writing your character is to be consistent with his/her voice and reactions.
A few basic ideas you should have in mind when creating your characters (and making them believable to your readers) are:
- What are they afraid of?
- What is their internal need/goal--the one they may not even realize they need to be happy?
- What is their internal goal (the one they are aware of)?
- What is their external goal-the one they may learn they don't really need to meet the others?)
- Also, know what they love deeply and what haunts them.
- Know what they think they can't do/ most don't want to do...and then make them do it! (oops, that's bringing us back to plot, isn't it?)
(with the help of http://www.loridevoti.com/ and my notes during her presentation at the Writer's Institute)