Thursday, November 13, 2014

Writing Basics - Plotting

Now that character is out of the way, or at least a broad scope of ways to create realistic characters, we can move on to plotting. Plotting is simply the series of events that create your story. When I’ve helped other writers, I’ve noticed that plotting comes in a very close second to the problems that they face. I’ve already wrote about why your Antag is the most important character. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. (But I’d bet if nothing’s happening in your story – you haven’t sat down in the deep dark dungeon with your Antag.)

Plotting is simple. For most books and movies we use a Three or Six Act series of short stories that create the larger arc. Because I come from a movie background, I generally write a Six Act Storyline.  Below are the main items to be covered in each section.

1.       CATALYST – something in the daily life of character changes
2.       BIG EVENT – Changes the direction of story
3.       PINCH – Point of no return (Character fully committed)
4.       CRISIS – Major problem that needs to be fixed / low point
5.       SHOWDOWN/CLIMAX – When events must be put in proper order/things are fixed
6.       REALIZATION/RESOLUTION – Character has changed, achieved goals, etc

So that’s it. All done. Wow that was an easy blog post. I guess I’ll get ready for the next one. LOL

Okay, I’ll go into depth. First let’s create a character. We’ll call her Felicia and because of the name, she’ll be a cat. Everyone used to love ware animals so let’s make her a werecat. Or at least somewhere in the plot she’ll become one. Now let’s write a simple story based on that information. And we’ll see how easy it is to plot.

First I’ll turn her into a real character with Depth and Levels. This is generally a brainstorm based on what I spoke about here.

Felicia just started the 8th grade. She’s typical height/weight. I want her to wear glasses because I think it’ll be cute and something she can grow out of. She’s not shy, but not overly outgoing. She has dark hair and a periwinkle stripe. (Why? Why not? It’s cute and cool. And I want it. [Periwinkle stripe will need backstory though. Anything out of the ordinary needs backstory]) She speaks normally. She’s not the most popular girl, doesn’t have any “real bullies” and is more of a teacher’s pet. But she’s attractive and boys do like her. Her favorite colors are periwinkle and pink (because of her hair) and she has periwinkle eyes to match her stripe. She’s white[, but (backstory) she knows her dad was not 100% white. He was of a mixed race and her mother doesn’t know everything about him]. That’s why she may have the stripe. (Something to get to in a later book, maybe?) She has a hint of detective in her. (Maybe I’m thinking too much about the girl from the books of ELSEWARE – who cares I like it.) Her smart side conflicts with her attractive side.  She has no siblings (because I don’t want to think about other kids in the house. I want the story to be about her and her mom).  And there you have it, Felicia is born. (5 minutes)

Now back to plotting… Here we go.

CATALYST – something in the daily life of character changes
PROTAG does something normal for her world. They spots something/trips over something/meets someone that makes her think differently. They goes back to their normal life, but has doubts/imagination heightened/etc.

Felicia leaves fifth period. Abby, her best friend, reminds her about the 8th Grade Dance on Friday. They both spot Jason, Felicia’s crush. Felicia shies away from seeing him, but just then he texts her saying he hopes to see her at the party. Overjoyed she heads home, but on the way a cat follows her as she turns down a street. At the next crossways another joins. By the time she gets home 10 cats are parading behind her. Frightened she runs up stairs. Her mother tries to talk to her, but the weirdness of the day is too much and Felicia just wants to get to her studies to make sure she can go to the dance.

BIG EVENT – Changes the direction of story
PROTAG goes to event/place/new world. They see new things and are momentarily happy. Something Bad happens and they are thrown away from the old world into the new one or away from the new one back into the old one.
Felicia wants to go to the 8th grade dance. It’s the “Big Event” of the fall. She picks out her dress and talks to her best friend Abby about going. Abby is a little worried that none of the boys will notice them, but Felicia is not worried about it. She’s already received two texts from Jason. Felicia starts to have stomach pains and a headache, she hopes it’s not her whatever medical problem. Her mother thinks it’s something else, but Felicia plays it off and tells her mother she’s “understands.” After all, didn’t she ace Health Class? At the Dance, Jason notices her lip appears slightly hairy like she has peach fuzz. Panicked she rushes to the hallway only to watch in horror as her body transforms. Abby and Jason arrive and can’t believe their eyes. The BULLY\FAV TEACHER arrives and makes the moment worse. Felicia runs off into the night.

PINCH – Point of no return (Character fully committed)
PROTAG feels bad/confused. Someone/thing appears which gives them some guidance. PROTAG learns about this new ability, and reconciles that they must take on this issue.

Felicia doesn’t know what to think. She glares into her reflection at the edge of a lake. Her mother walks up from behind her. Her mother assures her it’ll be okay. It’s her first change, but there will be others. She states that werecats are natural enemies of werewolves and if she doesn’t learn to control her new powers the werewolves may find her and kill her. Her mother starts her training to change on command and to suppress the change when needed. Abby calls her and supports her OR Maybe Abby starts dating Jason. (It’s your story figure it out LOL)

CRISIS – Major problem that needs to be fixed / low point
ANTAG shows up just. PROTAG is gaining mastery, but is likely to fail at some major event causing a downfall.  

Mr. Furrytails, a super-powered werewolf, learns of Felicia. He wants all werecats to report to him so that he can control them. But her mom never reported in and therefore he is angry. Mr. Furrytails attacks and kidnaps her mom. Felicia is left because they think she’s dead, or that she got away or some other “convenient” way that she’s not captured. (Or maybe she is). Felicia starts to doubt. How can she save her mom? Was it her fault?

SHOWDOWN/CLIMAX – When events must be put in proper order/things are fixed
PROTAG comes to senses. A plan is formed. PROTAG goes to the rescue and new found powers save the day. (Generally in last breath, last second, last bit of rope, etc)

Mr. Furrytails takes Felicia’s mom to his stronghold. Felicia sneaks in with the help of the 10 cats that followed her home in part one and Abby making a few phone calls. (Or use whatever secret trait you’ve given the SC). Felicia sees her mom and rescues her. But it’s not that easy. Mr. Furrytails enters. He’s amused/angry. He attacks and almost kills Felicia. At the last moment she remembers something from a previous act that seemed unimportant to the reader/viewer. She uses that to stop Furrytails. He dies, scurries off, etc.

REALIZATION/RESOLUTION – Character has changed, achieved goals, etc
Cleanup all loose ends. Prepare for next book/movie/video game storyline.

Felicia tells her mom about how she feels. She knows everything will be okay. Her mom warns Felicia that Mr. Furrytails works for a Ms. Puffinpaws and that she is extremely dangerous. Her mom says that they’ll continue training and next time, they’ll be ready.

So there it is, a quick overview of plotting. Remember an Antag can be anything including aliens or a disease. (1 hour to plot) So in 90 minutes a story and character was born. An idea with more time should be more in-depth and fun, but the core of the plotting will remain similar.

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