July 22, 2013
Today’s Writers’ Tips
I’ve just finished reading a very good book, TWENTY MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias. Before reading the book, I was totally unaware of how many different kinds of plots a writer could contrive in his/her fiction work. I’ve used this book as one of my primary resources this week as I teach a work-in-progress class at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA. http://www.montrosebible.org/writers.htm This work by Tobias is packed with useful information for any writer of fiction, who desires to improve his skills for writing an appealing, can’t-put-the-book-down manuscript.
Last time I posted here (July 8, 2013), I defined “plot” and looked at the difference between a plot-driven book and a character-driven book. Today we’ll look at the first plot Ronald Tobias defined in his book:
PLOT # 1
The Wizard of Oz
Lord of the Rings
The Grapes of Wrath
Jason and the Argonauts
As you write your story, keep these points in mind:
1. A quest plot should be about a search for a person, place, or thing; develop a close parallel between your hero’s intent and motivation and what he’s trying to find.
2. Your plot should move, visiting many people and places. Don’t just move your character around as the wind blows. Movement should be contingent on your plan of cause and effect. (You can make the journey seem like there’s nothing guiding it— making it seem casual— but in fact it is causal.)
3. Consider bringing your plot full circle geographically. Your hero frequently ends up in the same place where she started.
4. Make your character different at the end of the story as a result of his/her quest. This story is about the character, who makes the search, not about the object of the search itself. Your character is in the process of changing during the story. How does he/she change and why?
5. The object of the journey is wisdom, which takes the form of self-realization for the hero. This is often the process of maturation. It could be about a child who learns the lessons of adulthood, but it could also be about an adult who learns the lessons of life.
6. Your first act should include a motivating incident, which starts your hero’s search. Don’t just launch into a quest; make sure your reader understands why your character wants to go on the quest.
7. Your hero should have at least one companion. He must have interactions with other characters to keep the story from becoming too abstract or too interior. Your hero needs someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to argue with.
8. Consider including a helpful character.
9. Your last act should include your character’s discovery, which occurs either after giving up the search or after achieving it.
10. What your character discovers is usually different from what he originally sought.
ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF
Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 189). F+W Media, Inc.. Kindle Edition.
Next time, we’ll have a look at PLOT #2: ADVENTURE
Is historical fiction (romance) one of your favorite genres? Check out Olivia Stocum’s latest work: DAWNING
Scotland, 1599 . . . He abandoned her. She had failed to be enough for him. The empty space he left behind hollowed out her heart, and she wondered what to do with the rest of her life.
When Ronan leaves the clan to seek his fortune, Triona MacAlastair fears she will never see him again. Four years later, a threat against her life forces her to depend on a mysterious, cloaked rogue known as Blackhawk.
She knows he is capable of protecting her, but what is he hiding? Why does he refuse to show his face?
Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DYSM6DO
A Little About the Author:
Olivia Stocum lives in upstate New York with her husband, three children, and their Jack Russell Terror (oh, sorry, Terrier). She has been writing since she was first published when she was eight years old. The majority of her childhood was spent riding horses, playing with her dog, shooting her favorite re-curve bow, and going on imaginary adventures with Robin Hood. One day she might even decide to grow up (but probably not).