Thursday, 22 May 2008

Thoughts on Plotting

Plotting is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. It’s one of the hardest things to get right, and the hardest thing to get good feedback on, simply because it would involve getting someone to read the entire novel, which is a lot to ask of anyone.

Anyway, after trawling through writing books and the internet I thought I would post some of my thoughts on the subject here.

Now it seems that most stories will follow the same general plot principle, which I’ve tried to visualise in my little graph below.

Arc of Tension:
1. Normal World
2. Point of Change
3. Conflict/Crisis (Rising arc of tension)
4. Climax
5. Resolution
6. New Level (different from the starting point)

So how does this compare with all the other structures described out there? Well I think they are one and the same and in order to illustrate this I’ve taken 4 popular ones: The Heroes, journey, the 3 act structure, the 7 basic blot beats and the 8 point arc, and mapped them across onto my arc of tension graph.

Basic 3 Act Structure
1. Beginning
2. Middle
3. End

8 Point Arc
1. Stasis
2. Trigger
3. Quest
4. Surprise
5. Critical Choice
6. Climax
7. Reward
8. Resolution

7 Basic plot beats
1. Problem
2. Opponent
3. Desire
4. The plan
5. The battle
6. Knowledge
7. New Level

Heroes Journey
1. Ordinary World
2. Call to Adventure
3. Refusal of call
4. Meeting Mentors
5. Road of Trials
6. Approach Innermost Cave
7. Woman as Temptress
8. Ordeal
9. Reward
10. Road Back
11. Rescue from Without
12. Magic Flight
13. Resurrection
14. Master of Two Worlds

Apologies if it’s not that easy to read but hopefully you can get the gist. It seems to me that they map across rather well.

So how does this apply to my own work?

Well as a little experiment I thought I would try to map the tension arc for my children’s book. Estimates for tension in each chapter are of course based on gut feeling. Here it is.

So what does this tell me about my plot eh? Well I'll leave that for you to decide :-)

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Talk about writing to a formula!

    Hello. I came here via Jane Smith's Pitch Party.


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