Plot Thickenings

If someone hadn’t given me a good word of advice a long time ago, I’m fairly sure I’d still be just sitting down to write–no plot, no plan, and in the end, no story.

I’ve learned I must have some sort of roadmap or I’ll end up hyperventilating every time I open my word document because I’m totally lost.

If I plotted as heavily as some wonderfully awesome writers do, I’d be so bored with my story, I’d clean toilets rather than work on it.

So when I write a book, I do a little plotting beforehand, then go for it. (I’m always way too anxious to get to the fun of that first scene.)

For me at this time, plotting means a little Miss Deb (Dixon) for the hero, heroine and the bad guy if there is one–character wants this, because of this, but he can’t have it because of this.

Then turning points–

  1. Inciting incident.
  2. Midbook turning point.
  3. Midbook turning point.
  4. Dark moment.
  5. Resolution.

A little explanation:

  • Inciting incident is the happening that starts things off. In a romance, it’s often the first meeting between the hero and heroine. Other times, it’s something that happens that precipitates the first attraction between the pair.
  • A turning point is something that changes things. It can be something one discovers about the other or something that happens to both of them that changes the direction of their relationship.
  • The dark moment is when something happens that destroys the relationship. Makes it un-fixable.
  • Resolution is when the hero and heroine realize they really do love each other, no matter what. Inspite of whatever the dark moment was.

The best books are written so flawlessly and build on what’s already happened so well that it’s hard to say, There. That’s the dark moment or Turning point! Turning point!

So how can you pick them out in someone else’s books and thereby learn to employ it yourself? The best way I can explain it is when I’m reading along and I do a mentally gasp or sigh, Oh, I do like him or Maybe she’s not really a pain, that could be a turning point.

So I read on, and if things change (in the books I read/write, that’s usually between the h/h) I’ve pinpointed one! 🙂

Now you know how I plot a book. It gives me a roadmap of sorts without the spoilers that would ruin the trip for me.

Of course, I’m always looking for a better way to piece together my mousetrap. How do you build yours?

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12 thoughts on “Plot Thickenings

  1. I know a woman who can’t take a trip without planning the whole journey in advance. Before even loading the car on the first day, she knows where she’s going to stop for lunch, spend the night, etc., and she never deviates.

    I once took off from South Carolina to Washington state without a road map. Had a fabulous time. I knew where I was starting and where the trip would end, but didn’t have a clue how to get there, other than occasionally going north, then west.

    And that’s how I write. I usually know a few highlights in the middle, but there are always tons of options along the way. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but it works (for now) for me.

    • That would have been an exciting trip, whether you ever made Washington or not, M. So much fun!
      And your books are the best, so don’t change a thing. (until you need to.)

      • It was a ton of fun. Saw places we never imagined beforehand we’d get within a hundred miles of. One of the best road trips ever.

        And thanks. I stick with a plan till it quits working. I’m nothing if not stubborn (or lazy).

  2. You know what’s funny, Lynn? The blogs I write that sound stilted and disjointed (ie: dorky) usually get the best comments.
    And I really, really appreciate it!

      • No, I don’t… haha. First I think of my characters and the ways in which they’re special (I write YA sci-fi). Then I come up with a v. evil bad guy. Then I try to figure out how they beat him… I used Randy Ingermanson’s snowflake method for the first book of my current trilogy, but for the sequel I just made a list of every plot point I could make up. I write the first draft quickly and then look over my plot again, pinpoint the holes, etc. And then I rewrite. 🙂

        • I’m not sure what the snowflake method is. I’ll see if I can google it and find out. (Or you can ‘splain it if you want.) In fact, I’ll probably send you an email if you don’t mind.
          Question: What’s a v. evil bad guy? V for very? Do you do the backstory on him (just for yourself) so you know why he’s so evil?
          Thanks Paulina!

          • Yeah, v. stands for very. I don’t mind. 🙂 I usually combine backstory with major motivation: I found an article once that said almost anyone would do anything for $10 000. What if you increase that motivation? People would be willing to do even more… I found the snowflake method online… You start with one sentence detailing your book, then you build it up to one paragraph, to a page, to a three-page synopsis, and so on. It’s a very detailed way to outline 🙂

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