30 Days of PreWriting, Day 11   Leave a comment

Today’s Link: http://www.stellacameron.com/contrib/plot.html

When you get started reading Stella Cameron’s article about creating a plot, you might think maybe we’ve done some of this before. And we have. The same things go into pretty much every plot and every novel, but they don’t have to be done in the same order. So her order is different from ours.

1. Gathering – We did this. We have the link to the 36 Dramatic Situations. We’ve looked at the 20 Basic Plots. We read every one of the items on the Big List of RPG Plots. We’ve gathered plenty. And if we did any of the brainstorming and clustering and freewriting from the first few days of the month, we gathered even more.

2. Selection – We did this yesterday, at least for our example. Hopefully, you’ve also made your own selection for your NaNovel. The earlier you decide, the more time you have to prewrite and develop a good outline/system to work from.

3. People – We’ve done this. Or at least we know how. I added Rin and a few other random characters (names only, but names are half the battle with a character). So our mind map now looks like this:

ExampleMMPic2 4. Wants – Some of this is also already done. Our beginning scenario spells out the biggest want for our main characters. They want the Big Thing they’ve been put in charge of to succeed. And, since conflict is the name of the noveling game, we’ll say that Evil McEvilpants wants them to fail, because he wants to be in charge of the Big Thing. But we can come up with a few other wants that are more individualized to each of the characters. Maybe we’ll come up with a little something like this:

ExampleMMPic3 5. Motivate – It’s easy to see how closely this resembles Wants, now that we have some on our mind map. Rin is motivated by curiosity, and probably a little bit of a feeling of incompletion. Bob is motivated by love. Joe is motivated by money. And Evil is probably motivated by money as well. Though, maybe he’s not. Evil could really be motivated by anything. Maybe his family is poor and his mother is sick. He wants to run the Big Thing so that he can afford her medications. That’s still a little bit of a money motivation, but it’s also a family loyalty and responsibility motivation. And it’s always nice to give a villain a motivation that makes sense and makes him at least a little bit likeable. One of my favorite authors has made me hate a character in one book, then turn things around in the next book in the series and make me hate that same character. If your villain is just evil for evil’s sake, that’s not even an option. Make him angry, nasty, rude, and mean. But don’t make him Pure Evil.

6. On Location – Our location can be anywhere. But the Big Thing has started to take on a little bit of shape (to me, at least). I’m not going to worry about big ideas. The Big Thing itself will likely be our most common location. So, as long as I at least work out that, I can worry about things like what city it’s in, and what time period, later. So, for our example, the Big Thing is a bar and grill. There’s a great place here in my town called The Blind Tiger. They brew their own beer and root beer and the place has a very old-fashioned, rustic feel. So I’m going to keep that in mind as I flesh out the Big Thing.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll talk about other ways to plot this same thing without using the mind map. Not everyone digs that method, so I want to talk about other paths to the same conclusion: an outline/system to write from.

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