Plot Your Novel: Day 3

Today’s lesson in the Plot Your Novel in Just Five Days challenge is number three, “Identifying Key Points of Interest.” This one builds on Monday’s and Tuesday’s assignments but is much more complex than the lessons of the first two days.

The first day involved setting a Story Question, External Goal, and Internal Motivation for the main character’s journey. The second day was mostly about setting up a list of obstacles that the character might face on the way to achieving (or not achieving) her goals, and come up with a way to overcome at least one of them.

Today was more involved, and took more time. First we had to identify some key points of the story, or of the main character’s journey:

  1. The Setup: Help us understand the character’s Point A so we can be invested in the journey to Point B.
  2. The Inciting Event: Describe the moment, probably 5% to 10% of the way in, that is the catalyst to the character embarking on this journey. Why is this story happening now?
  3. The Major Highs: List the high points, the character’s triumphs over each obstacle that crops up, until the highest of highs, the Climax.

And then we had to draw a diagram, like a big M or W, but possible with more peaks and valleys, charting out the main challenges and setbacks, triumphs and achievements, and the pinpointing the All Is Lost moment, when things look bleakest, and then the Climax and Resolution.

I drew the diagram. It is not as complete as I’d like it to be, but I guess it’s a start. I haven’t ironed out all of my obstacles and triumphs. And my climax is still rather vague, of the “and then they save the planet” variety. I did post the Inciting Incident on the Facebook page, as requested. But I have more work to do on my diagram, and on choosing my character’s obstacles and means of overcoming them.

Part of my problem is that the format doesn’t allow for subplots (though that may be addressed in the next few days). And I have subplots that will be closely entwined with my main plot, sometimes echoing its rise and fall. Maybe each subplot needs its own diagram, superimposed over the main one. I’ll have to work on that.

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