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Archive for January, 2019

PLOTS #19 and #20

ASCENSION AND DESCENSION

The Godfather

The Elephant Man

Elmer Gantry

Citizen Cane

Poster showing two women in the bottom left of the picture looking up towards a man in a white suit in the top right of the picture. "Everybody's talking about it. It's terrific!" appears in the top right of the picture. "Orson Welles" appears in block letters between the women and the man in the white suit. "Citizen Kane" appears in red and yellow block letters tipped 60° to the right. The remaining credits are listed in fine print in the bottom right.

Poster photo compliments of Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_Kane)

We’ve finally gotten to the last two of twenty fiction plots from which writers may choose. If you’re interested in writing about a main character who either

  1. The focus of your story should be about a single character.
  2. That character should be strong-willed, charismatic, and seemingly unique. All of your other characters will revolve around this one.
  3. At the heart of your story should be a moral dilemma. This dilemma tests the character of your protagonist/ antagonist, and it is the foundation for the catalyst of change in her character.
  4. Character and event are closely related to each other. Anything that happens should happen because of the main character. He/she is the force that affects events, not the reverse. (This isn’t to say that events can’t affect your main character; however, we are more interested in how he/she acts upon the world than how the world acts upon him/her.)
  5. Try to show your character as he/she was before the major change that altered his/her life so we have a basis of comparison.
  6. Show your character progressing through successive changes as a result of events. If it is a story about a character who overcomes horrible circumstances, show the nature of that character while he/she still suffers under those circumstances. Then show us how events change his/her nature during the course of the story. Don’t “jump” from one character state to another; that is, show how your character moves from one state to another by giving us his/her motivation and intent.
  7. If your story is about the fall of a character, make certain the reasons for the fall are a result of character and not gratuitous circumstances. The reason for a rise may be gratuitous (the character wins $ 27 million in LottoAmerica) but not the reasons for his/her fall. The reasons for a character’s ability to overcome adversity should also be the result of his/her character, not some contrivance.
  8. Try to avoid a straight dramatic rise or fall. Vary the circumstances in the character’s life: Create rises and falls along the way. Don’t just put your character on a rocket to the top and then crash. Vary intensity of the events, too. It may seem for a moment that your character has conquered his/her flaw, when in fact, it doesn’t last long. And vice versa. After several setbacks, the character finally breaks through (as a result of her tenacity, courage, belief, etc.).
  9. Always focus on your main character. Relate all events and characters to your main character. Show us the character before, during, and after the change.

A FINAL CHECKLIST Give yourself a little quiz to see if you’re ready to write your best-selling novel:

As you develop your plot, consider the following questions. If you can answer all of them, you have a grasp of what your story is about. But if you can’t answer any of them, you still don’t know what your story is and what you want to do with it.

1. In fifty words, what is the basic idea for your story?

2. What is the central aim of the story? State your answer as a question. For example, “Will Othello believe Iago about his wife?”

3. What is your protagonist’s intent? (What does she want?)

4. What is your protagonist’s motivation? (Why does she want what she is seeking?)

5. Who and/ or what stands in the way of your protagonist?

6. What is your protagonist’s plan of action to accomplish her intent?

7. What is the story’s main conflict? Internal? External?

8. What is the nature of your protagonist’s change during the course of the story?

9. Is your plot character-driven or action-driven?

10. What is the point of attack of the story? Where will you begin?

11. How do you plan to maintain tension throughout the story?

12. How does your protagonist complete the climax of the story?

So, there you have it. The wrap-up of about 16 of my blogs over the last year, blogs dedicated to writing good fiction. I want to again remind you that all the information has been taken from:

Tobias, Ronald B (2011-12-15). 20 Master Plots (p. 273). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in writing good fiction.

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PLOT # 18

WRETCHED EXCESS

Mildred Pierce

The Lost Weekend

Adam, Eve, and the Serpent

Picture compliments of Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garden_of_Eden

The holidays are over, and if you’re like me, you want to “get back in the groove of life” and face the new year head on. However, with sugar plum fairies possibly still dancing in your head, you might be struggling to get back into the writing mode. Maybe these tips about writing fiction will help.

If you want to tackle this difficult fiction subgenre, do your homework and study best sellers before you start. A “wretched excess” plot involves all kinds of drama and some difficult scenes. But there are some issues you need to address with much care as you write. It’s definitely a character-driven piece of work:

  1. Wretched excess is generally about the psychological decline of a character.
  2. Base the decline of your character on a character flaw.
  3. Present the decline of your character in three phases: how he/she is before events start to change him/her; how he/she is as he/she successively deteriorates; and what happens after events reach a crisis point, which forces him/her either to give in completely to his/her flaw (tragedy) or to recover from it.
  4. Develop your character so that his/her decline evokes sympathy. Don’t present him/her as a raving lunatic.
  5. Take particular care in the development of your character, because the plot depends on your ability to convince the audience that he/she is both real and worthy of their feelings for him/her.
  6. Avoid melodrama. Don’t try to force emotion beyond what the scene can carry.
  7. Be straightforward with information that allows the reader to understand your main character. Don’t hide anything that will keep your reader from being empathetic.
  8. Most writers want the audience to feel for the main character, so don’t make your character commit crimes out of proportion of our understanding of who and what he/she is. It’s hard to be sympathetic with a person who’s a rapist or a serial murderer.
  9. At the crisis point of your story, move your character either toward complete destruction or redemption. Don’t leave him/her swinging in the wind because your reader will definitely not be satisfied.
  10. Action in your plot should always relate to character. Things happen because your main character does (or does not) do certain things. The cause and effects of your plot should always relate either directly or indirectly to your main character.
  11. Don’t lose your character in his/her madness. Nothing beats personal experience when it comes to this plot. If you don’t understand the nature of the excess yourself (having experienced it), be careful about having your character do things that aren’t realistic for the circumstances.
  12. As I said before, do your homework, and fully understand the nature of the excess you want to write about.

Wow! That’s a head full of ideas and information, isn’t it? If you’re brave enough to tackle this “wretched excess,” God bless you as you work on your best seller!

ALL INFORMATION COMPLIMENTS OF

Tobias, Ronald B.  20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them (Kindle Locations 1185-1207). F+W Media, Inc. Kindle Edition.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing fiction of any kind.

*****

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