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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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PLOT # 16

SACRIFICE

Abraham and Isaac

(Painting compliments of

https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/abraham-and-isaac-bible-story.html)

High Noon

Casablanca

If you’re thinking of dabbling in a novel that involves great sacrifice on the part of your main protagonist, several key points need to be included in your story:

  1. The protagonist’s sacrifice should come at a great personal cost; your protagonist is playing for high stakes, either physical or mental.
  2. Your protagonist should undergo a major transformation during the course of the story, moving from a lower moral state to a higher one.
  3. Events must force the protagonist’s decisions.
  4. An adequate foundation of character must be developed early so the reader understands the character’s progress on the path to making his sacrifice.
  5. All events should be a reflection of the main character and his actions. They test and develop “character.”
  6. Make clear the motivation of your protagonist so the reader understands why he would make that kind of sacrifice.
  7. Show the line of action through the line of your character’s thoughts.
  8. Have a strong moral dilemma at the center of your story.

Once you incorporate this key issues in your story, then you only have one big decision to make: Will my novel end with a smile or a frown? Either is acceptable.

So, there you have it. Get those creative juices flowing, and crank out the next best-selling “sacrifice” novel.

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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PLOT # 15

FORBIDDEN LOVE

Romeo and Juliet

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Are you a writer with a passion to peck out a love story with a tragic, yet heartwarming, plot or end? Then take heed to the steps you need to take to crank out a best-seller:

  1. Forbidden love is any love that goes against the conventions of society, so there is usually either an explicit or implicit force exerted against the lovers.
  2. The lovers ignore social convention and pursue their hearts, usually with disastrous results.
  3. Adultery is the most common form of forbidden love. The adulterer may either be the protagonist or antagonist, depending on the nature of the story. The same is true for the offended spouse.
  4. The first dramatic phase should define the relationship between partners and phrase it in its social context. What are the taboos that they have broken? How do they handle it themselves? How do the people around them handle it? Are the lovers moonstruck, or do they deal with the realities of their affair head-on?
  5. The second dramatic phase should take the lovers into the heart of their relationship. The lovers may start out in an idyllic phase, but as the social and psychological realities of their affair become clear, the affair may start to dissolve or come under great pressure to dissolve.
  6. The third dramatic phase should take the lovers to the end point of their relationship and settle all the moral scores. The lovers are usually separated, either by death, force, or desertion.

So, there you have it. Take note of the progression of “sadness” that must occur to develop a well-written forbidden love story.

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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PLOT # 14

LOVE

Pride and Prejudice

Splash

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

My Fair Lady

If you’re considering writing a romance, take into consideration the following information that just might help you write a best seller:

  1. The prospect of love should always be met with a major obstacle. Your characters may want it, but they can’t have it for any variety of reasons. At least not right away.

2. The lovers are usually ill-suited in some way. They may come from different social classes or they may be physically unequal (one is blind or have special needs).

3. The first attempt to solve the obstacle is almost always thwarted. Success doesn’t come easily. Love must be proven by dedication and stick-to-it-iveness.

4.  As one observer once put it, love usually consists of one person offering the kiss and the other offering the cheek, meaning one lover is more aggressive in seeking love than the other. The aggressive partner is the seeker, who completes the majority of the action. The passive partner (who may want love just as much) still waits for the aggressive partner to overcome the obstacles. Either role can be played by either sex.

5.  Love stories don’t need to have happy endings. If you try to force a happy ending on a love story that clearly doesn’t deserve one, your audience will refuse it. True, Hollywood prefers happy endings, but some of the world’s best love stories (Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, Love Story) are very sad.

6.  Concentrate on your main characters to make them appealing and convincing. Avoid the stereotypical lovers. Make your characters and their circumstances unique and interesting. Love is one of the hardest subjects to write about because it’s been written about so often, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well. You will have to feel deeply for your characters, though. If you don’t, neither will your readers.

7. Emotion is an important element in writing about love. Not only should you be convincing, but you should develop the full range of feelings: fear, loathing, attraction, disappointment, reunion, consummation, etc. Love has many feelings associated with it and you should be prepared to develop them according to the needs of your plot.

8.  Understand the role of sentiment and sentimentality in your writing and decide which is better for your story. If you’re writing a formula romance, you may want to use the tricks of sentimentality. If you’re trying to write a one-of-a-kind love story, you will want to avoid sentimentality and rely on true sentiment in your character’s feelings.

9.  Take the lovers through the full ordeal of love. Make sure they are tested (individually and collectively) and that they finally deserve the love they seek. Love is earned; it is not a gift. Love untested is not true love.

So, there you have it. If you’ve started a romance, do a checklist using these nine essential “ingredients” and see how many you’ve included to shape that novel into a page turner.

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.

*****************************************************

COMING SOON!

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PLOT # 13

MATURATION

Flight (J. Steinbeck)

Nick Adams’ Stories (E. Hemingway)

Huckleberry Finn

Hansel and Gretel

What does it take to write a page-turning maturation fiction plot? Whether for adults or children, there are certain steps to take. Let’s see:

  1. Create a protagonist who is on the cusp of adulthood, whose goals are either confused or not yet clarified.
  2. Make sure the audience understands who the character is and how she feels and thinks that begins the process of change.
  3. Contrast the protagonist’s naive childhood against the reality of an unprotected life (adulthood).
  4. Focus your story on your protagonist’s moral and psychological growth.
  5. Once you’ve established your protagonist as he/she was before the change, create an incident that challenges her beliefs and her understanding of how the world works.
  6. Does your character reject or accept change? Perhaps both? Does he/she resist the lesson? How does he/she act?
  7. Show your protagonist undergoing the process of gradual change.
  8. Make sure your young protagonist is convincing; don’t give him/her adult values and perceptions until he/she is ready to portray them.
  9. Don’t have that protagonist accomplish adulthood all at once. Small lessons often represent major upheavals in the process of growing up.
  10. Decide at what psychological price this lesson comes, and establish how your protagonist copes with it.

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.

*****************************************************88

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TODAY’S WRITERS’ TIP

FICTION PLOT # 12 

TRANSFORMATION

 

After several months of blogging about the 2018 Montrose Christian Writers Conference held from July 22nd to the 27th, I’m now returning to blog posts about writing and how to help you become a better writer. Before I blogged about this past July’s conference, I had discussed eleven different plots (of 20 presented in the book, 20 Master Plots by Ronald B. Tobias). Below is plot 12, which presents the details concerning writing a plot that “transforms” characters.

PLOT # 12

TRANSFORMATION

The Red Badge of Courage

Pygmalion (My Fair Lady)

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Jekyll-mansfield.jpg 

 

Well-written transformation plots are intriguing because of the big change that takes place in at least one main character throughout the story. But what elements are essential to make that best-seller work? Let’s take a look:

  1. The plot of transformation should deal with the process of change as the protagonist journeys through one of the many stages of life.
  2. The plot should isolate a portion of the protagonist’s life that represents the period of change, moving from one significant character state to another.
  3. The story should concentrate on the nature of change and how it affects the protagonist’s experience from start to end.
  4. The first dramatic phase should relate the transforming incident that propels the antagonist into a crisis, which starts the process of change.
  5. The second dramatic phase generally should depict the effects of the transformation. Since this plot is about character, the story concentrates on the protagonist’s self-examination.
  6. The third dramatic phase should contain a clarifying incident, which represents the final stage of the transformation. The character understands the true nature of his experience and how it’s affected him. This is the point in the story at which true growth and understanding occur.
  7. Often the price of wisdom the character gains is a certain sadness.

 Go ahead, writer. Take a shot at a transformation plot. You just might transform yourself into a best-selling author!

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

(I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in writing good fiction.)

Happy writing!

Marsha

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