One of the buzzwords you’ll hear in writing circles is ‘plot-driven.’ It seems that the best stories are either character-driven or plot-driven, but I’ve come to believe these things are the same.
Your stories need to tell the tale of how your MC changes as they progress from Point A to Point B. Hopefully, this is a positive change, but sometimes a negative change makes for a good plot, too. (Think Anakin Skywalker.)
Sometimes, our story comes to us fully formed, and we don’t have to look for the characteristics of our story line, but for the most part, as a writer, you need to know how to develop a plot.
There are many ways to create a direction for your story, but I would like to share a template I’ve developed from the dozens of articles I’ve read.
First, think of your story as a linear path. Your plot is your road map to success.
- Define the Prize* – what does your MC want?
- Define the character flaw – what is missing in your MC? How do they need to change or grow?
- The Backstory** – what haunts your MC as the story begins?
- The Ultimate challenge – Think of the most horrifying thing your MC would have to go through to obtain the Prize – write it!
- The Inciting Incident***– this is the one event that sets the story in motion
- The Strategy – how will the MC traverse Point A to Point B?
- Conflict – Who or what works against your MC? This would be your Antagonist. (Remember, it doesn’t have to be a person.)
- Hopelessness – Define that moment where your MC is ready to give up
- Moral – what does your MC learn about themselves, others, or life in general?
- Decision – what does your MC do because of what they learned?
As you can see, there are things you need to understand about your MC to develop the plot. This is the main reason why there are so many questionnaires on the internet to help you get to know your MC on an intimate basis. How else can you see what or how your MC will act or react to a given situation.
This template can be used to build a solid framework for the plot of either a short story or a novel.
If you have problems with drifting and getting off-topic, having a road map for your story will accomplish two things – you will have a clear path to your resolution, and you will know when your story ends.
Until next time,
- The Prize or Main Goal for your MC is vitally important to the story
** The Backstory is something you need to work on and understand BEFORE you start writing
*** The Inciting Incident needs to be clearly defined and not in anyway vague. This is the centerpiece for your story.