Plot Your Novel: Day 5

Friday was the final day of the Plot Your Novel in Just Five Days challenge, which puts together all the pieces from the preceding four days. The title of the lesson: Proof the Route.

Just a few of the issues discussed:

What is the difference between suspense and tension? (Suspense is a function of story; tension is a function of scene) And what is the difference between momentum and pace? (Momentum is a function of story; pace is a function of scene).

Is every story progression logical and inevitable? Characters who knowingly make stupid, counterproductive decisions without good reason end up alienating readers. Realistic characters choose the easiest way to move toward their goals; if your story requires them to choose the difficult, complicated way — as it usually will — you have to make that the logical choice by cutting them off from easier options. Characters’ reasons for their actions must make sense within the context of the story.

Is every scene essential to carry your protagonist to the final destination? Is it inevitable, given what has come before? Scenes should not exist just to provide background information. They should move the story along, as well. Each scene should move the story somewhere along a path either from a high point to a low point or from a low point to a high point. The story must always be on an upward or downward arc.

By the end of the novel, does the protagonist achieve his or her goal? It is fine if the character does not. But the character and situation must change in some way. The destination should be different from the starting point, even if it isn’t the destination the character had in mind at the start.

The worksheet for Day 5 is a checklist for making sure these and other issues are addressed.

The questions we were supposed to answer on the group page weren’t specifically about our plot, but look ahead to our goals for the book: How long will it be? When will we have the book finished? And who will we share these goals with? My answers: 60,000 words by the end of April. And the person I will share the goal with is the person who originated the project and is serving as my editor or publisher.

So that’s it. The five-day challenge is complete. I think it’s been useful, and hope to be able to move ahead with this plot now.

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