Plot A Month, W1D6: Plot Sketch


If you’ve been taking side notes (I hope you’ve been taking side notes), or if you haven’t, it’s time to gather your materials together and sketch out your plot as best you can. Don’t worry if some details are fuzzy; also don’t worry if you think you have too much. We’re going to just get down everything you have.

In order to construct your plot, let’s look at the tools you should have by now.

  • Main Character’s Objective. What does the MC want or lack?
  • Main Character’s Conflict. What internal force keeps them from getting their goal? What external force keeps them from getting their goal?
  • Main Character’s Obstacles. What challenges await them when they attempt to get this goal? Why are they challenging?

You can also do this with your supporting characters; chances are there are some interesting subplots to be found there. Now that you hopefully have these, let’s look at your basic plot:

  • Beginning. Your character is at a point where they need to change. This change needs to be apparent to the reader, if not to the character themselves.
  • End. Your character has reached their goals. They have changed both internally (emotionally) and externally (something has changed for them; the environment, their situation in life, etc).

It’s okay not to know what happens in that treacherous, uncharted territory known as the middle; right now, you just need to be able to fill in enough blanks to know where to get started, and which direction to go to. Now let’s take this concept and apply it to a basic three act structure.

  • Act 1 – Will introduce us to our character and their needs for change. The coming change will start at the end of the act with the Inciting Event: the trigger that forces the character down the road to change. (Harry Potter finding out he’s a wizard, Katniss volunteering for the Hunger Games, etc).
  • Act 2 – The longest act, it will have a rise in tension as the characters try to reach their goals and fail, each failure becoming increasingly serious/dangerous. The characters will charge onto the Final Confrontation.
  • Act 3 – The plot reaches it’s Resolution. Characters achieve their goals.

The three act structure is not perfect (it’s often better suited for script writing because it works better in a media format), but it can help you figure out what needs to go where and how to get started. Don’t get locked into a rigid format if your ideas take off. Go after them!

In addition to this, you probably have a lot of extra scenes that you don’t know where to include. Get those down! If you feel the need to start writing, do it! Whatever you do now will be helpful later.

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