Can you believe October is almost over already? Which means it’s almost November, and NaNoWriMo is just two weeks away! I’ve already posted on how to plan out your characters, so today I’ll talk about plot.
There are several ways you can structure your plot, but the one I use the most is “three disasters and an ending.” You can read more about the structure in my previous post. Today is more about how to plan for those disasters and what you should try to accomplish with each one
The first disaster – The Inciting Incident.
What to accomplish: This disaster can be instigated by an outside source (bad guys do something bad), or by your main character (MC does something stupid). The first disaster must set your character into motion and give him Motivation, which will later feed his goal. That Motivation will propel you into the middle.
How to plan: I strongly suggest you know the Inciting Incident before you begin writing. That will lead you through your beginning and give you a starting point for your middle. Remember that your MC will need some form of Motivation, which usually comes from the first disaster.
The second disaster – The Mini-Climax
What to accomplish: Raise the stakes and increase the tension. The story can go any direction at this point, though the tension is quite at high as the Climax. It’s good if the MC causes the Mini-Climax, even if indirectly. If you’re stuck on this, try to finish this sentence: “This would not have happened if the MC didn’t…” If you can finish this sentence, then your MC, in one way or another, caused the second disaster. Your MC’s Motivation should solidify as a Goal. The second part of the middle follows him as he tries to obtain his Goal.
How to plan: It’s good to have a general idea of your Mini-Climax, but don’t panic if you don’t. Since your MC causes the Mini-climax, it can be hard to plan it before you know exactly what your MC does to get into the situation. Aim to have the Mini-Climax planned out around the time you finish writing the Inciting Incident. This will give you a constant flow of short-term goals to write toward.
Of course, you can do some intense planning like the Snowflake Method and probably have a good idea how to do this before even starting your novel. Just don’t be afraid to change it as you write.
The third disaster – The Climax
What to accomplish: Your MC tried to make up for his mistake in the Mini-Climax, and caused an even bigger problem. This is the earth-shattering disaster your MC can’t possible overcome, but your MC will not give up. His goal is solid now, and his determination will push you through the denouement (and will keep your reader interested).
How to plan: Next to your Inciting Incident, the Climax is the best thing to plan for ahead of time. Your plan will likely change as your characters run amok in your story, but if you have at least a general notion of where you want to be by the end, you’ll have an easier time making it through your middle, and it may even help you with the Mini-Climax. Since the Mini-Climax should be in between the Inciting Incident and the Climax (both in terms of timeline and tension), if you have your Inciting Incident and Climax planned, your Mini-Climax will fall into place fairly easily.
Your subplots should come together with the main plot for the Climax. If you have a general idea of what your Climax is, you have a general idea of what your subplots are, and you will have an easier time writing the middle. If you read the transcript from last night’s #Storycraft, you’ll see several of these points as well as many others.
- Beginning –>
- Inciting Incident, formation of Motivation. Plan before you write. Low tension.
- Middle, part 1 –>
- The Mini-Climax, formation of Goal, solidification of Motivation. Plan after you write the Inciting Incident. Medium tension.
- Middle, part 2 –>
- The Climax, solidification of Goal. Plan vaguely before you write, but feel free to change the plan. High tension.
- Ending + a twist.
Planning out your disasters ahead of time gives you short-term goals to work toward in your writing. These goals can help keep you on track and focused without making you feel too constrained to follow a single path.
Do you plan any scenes ahead of time? Your disasters or something else? Do you find it helpful or restricting?