WEEK 11: MAKING A PLAN
- making 3 and 5 point plans
Suggested writing task
The 3 point plan
This will be very short – you can use your pitch from earlier (though clearly it will be much more developed by now!) but it’s the essential heartbeat of your story, so don’t skip. Keep your 3 point plan in your head, or on a post-it, at all times when writing. Try not deviate and make sure every scene is focussed upon this. Your reader will buy into your story because of this, and you need to keep them hooked by never letting up.
Have a go now!
Who is the story about? We need a character first, and foremost. You might have a cool premise or a magnificent world in your head, but we need a lens to watch this world through. Pop back to the sections on character if you’re struggling.
Every person in the world wants something, right? We also all need something – not necessarily the same thing – and we may not know we need it, either.
What does your character want? This is usually, but not always something tangible, which we can root for them to get during the story. Sometimes it’s an external thing.
And what do they need? Remember the need is often linked with a flaw or fear and will be part of the emotional, internal journey of the character.
Luke wants to become a Jedi, but Luke needs to learn to control his emotions. A reminder of the wants/needs section.
There’s no story without conflict. Fact. We need to make our heroes journey as difficult as possible. We need internal and external conflicts. We need to escalate these as our story progresses. We need to feel like our hero may fail at certain stages.
A reminder of the conflict section of our course.
Suggested writing task
The 5 point plan
Here we expand a little and start putting down some basic markers in terms of our story and it’s structure. These are the key points that it’s worth plotting out now. It will be fluid and these can and will change. But its good to have a good, a roadmap, to keep you heading towards something as you begin to write that first draft very soon…
A reminder here of what we discussed in the section on structure.
This is the ‘thing’ that starts the story structure. Something must change, otherwise there is no story. It can be a character, a change of fortunes, or something external. But the ordinary world of the main character must be altered. The result of this will force them to act or change in response, in some way, even if not immediately.
Doorway of No Return
Writers sometimes refer to this element of story structure as the end of Act 1 or Break into 2 and many other names. Essentially about 10% into your novel (this is very flexible) you need to make your character go forward on their journey, and they can’t go back, or at least not easily. It’s a sign of commitment from your main character and in turn, acts as a marker for your reader. If you want them to commit to the rest of your story, make sure your character has!
When your character, either literally or metaphorically, stands in front of a mirror and asks themselves, what kind of person are they, and what will they become? Can they become the person they need to be, in order to achieve their goals? Spend a lot of time on this aspect of story structure – overwrite it, especially in your first draft. It’s a big moment and as it’s a mirror moment, you can work out from here in both directions. The reader should feel the ripples from opening line to resolution.
A reminder of our section on middles.
Dark Night of the Soul
When your character is at their very lowest point – this is especially powerful when following a small success or when the path to success appeared to have opened up, but then their world comes crumbling down around them. Have they been separated from their ‘team’? Does the goal seem impossible now? We should be at the very lowest ebb and it should feel like there’s no way that either you or the protagonist can see how they can win.
More on the Dark Night of the Soul.
This part of story structure is where we see what our main character is worth – have they learned their lesson, or obtained the knowledge or skills necessary to achieve their goal, or to overcome their fear or flaw or misbelief? They must be faced with the very worst thing imaginable, the most difficult obstacle of the entire book – GO BIG and make them really work for it. The pay-off for the reader will be all the greater.
More on climaxes.