View Full Version : Lesson 9: Time to Plot

March 25th, 2009, 06:56 PM
Grab your character sheets, your blurbs and let's sit down and do this together. Those of you who have my chapter plotter, you'll see that I've included all the turning points from beginning to end in the Chapter portion.

For those of you who don't have it... What we're trying to do is take the Turning Points in a story arc and match up our GMC and story idea into one. If you're using index cards-- you use one per point.

Those points again are:

1.) Intro to a crisis
2.) First test/trial
3.) Twist to the Second Test
4.) 1st Major Change/Semi-resolution
5.) Grief State
6.) Practicing while Turning
7.) The Black Moment
8.) Resolution Station

So, let's start at the beginning. In the plotter, you'll see Chapter One- The Beginning.

For those of you index carding-- put Chapter one on the top and under it-- The Beginning- opening crisis. Under that, using only 2-3 sentences, referring to your sheets and blurb- tell what opens up the story and whose POV it's in. The idea here is that you put down what's needed to remind you how you see the movie trailer giving you that opening sequence that captures the reader. At the end of the card or in that second box on the plotter, mark down the character GMC it targets. This is important because it's either a character flaw at this point or it's a character strength or both!

On a new card or in Chapter two of the plotter-- Where do we go from here?

This is where the character(s) are being introduced and they have to decide- do they want to do this or not? Here we normally are establishing who they are and how others perceive them as they get to know each other. For this, you're setting up your next turning point. Again, use a couple of sentences of what you might like to put in this chapter or note at least what you'd like to show about either or both characters.

Chapter Three- This is fun, maybe

Here is where I'm putting small hurdles in the way- perhaps dealing with an external conflict. This allows me to ratchet up the tension and perhaps partially succeed/partially fail. I only note down what I want to happen, not how it happens. For example, this is where I'd have a person afraid that they might face the fact they can't physically handle snakes deal with the fact that where they go next is facing a snake-- in a controlled setting. It allows them to THINK they've gotten somewhere but at the same time, shows-- nah, they're still hiding from their fears. This is when I hint that soon to come, they might have to deal with a snake face-to-face.

Chapter Four-- Open

I leave this open to give you a chance to showcase the other main character's external GMC moment.

Chapter Five- Twist-o-flexing Internal Conflict (Repeat with Chapter 6)
This is where we delve into the first internal conflict and I normally use something of an external conflict to trigger it. Use a couple of sentences to show the conflict and make sure it's in that person's POV. That makes the story deeper. So if it's the heroine's conflict-- it needs to be in her POV to really make impact!

Chapter Six- Same as Chapter Five but for other character

Chapter Seven-- What the hell just happened and what do we do about it? (Allow chapter eight for more of the same)

Within this, I let the characters regroup a bit, face a bit of what hit them and see how they failed. Because let's be honest- they have to fail here in order to learn and grow. So, in this, I write a couple of sentences of how they cope and do they face reality or not. And I normally lay down the foundation of the next conflict (external) to come.

Chapter Nine-- That was close-- NOW what?

For Chapter nine, I build up another external conflict where one ends fairly swiftly, but is a feint that leads to another one that both characters must face and conquer together. Now they have no choice but work together and try to help each other to succeed. This is where you find the GMC parts that overlap and use the blurb to find a physical instance that might help bring them together.

Chapter Ten-- Oh no, this is going to be bad! Twist-o-flexing more

In this point, you've just come off the external conflict and just as you let the characters have a second to breathe, now another harder internal conflict hits them both. In chapter eleven, you might have them face the results of what has happened. Just a couple of sentences to remind you what you want them to face and perhaps a note on how you want it to end-- good, bad, partially successful.

Chapter Twelve-- The Black Moment- I don't know if I can do this, because if I fail....

This is the black moment. Where everything hits-- good faces evil, the love that's growing can either walk away and be destroyed or forged into something that will last forever. Now is where you write what they face and how it relates to the first GMC you shown. They have to seriously face it all and be able to handle all the consequences-- regardless if they're good or bad.

Chapter Thirteen--- The Fallout

This is where all the pieces of what happen in the black moment are dealt with. It's not a strict resolution, but where the process starts. They win or win only so much-- but they're together, they have both faced the worst parts of themselves and have become better for it. This is where they go to each other with the idea of being together- even if they were willing to sacrifice their love for the greater good.

Chapter Fourteen--- There's only one thing we can do-- know that I love you.

Here we tie up the remaining loose ends, bring the characters to a Happy For Now ending or Happily Ever After if we want and we bring them to the next phase of their lives. They have decided to be stronger, wiser and face their demons-- and do so together.

Once you've filled this in.... we'll go to the next part-- how to set up the RPG for fun in your plotter. smilies/bump.gif

Red Dragon
March 25th, 2009, 09:23 PM
I am very much behind so I have saved the lessons and will print them out and my character sheets and blurbs and plotting sheets. I love this. I'm sure this is a winning formula and feel that the blank sheet I've been staring at so long will soon blossom into an historical romance. Thanks again, Cynnara.

Red Dragon
March 26th, 2009, 12:01 AM
How many words do you think the novel of 14 chapters should be? 50,000
80,000 if you use 2 povs?

March 26th, 2009, 02:02 PM
Normally, depends on the length of your chapters. For me-- it can be anywhere from 25k to about 80k. The nice thing is-- if you write short chapters, you can space things a bit more if you'd like-- hooking like the good writer you want to be. The idea is more of a rough draft- something that a good friend and fellow author- Lena Austin shared with me. Some people write 1k per chapter, nothing more or less. Some do 2k. All depends on what you need and want to do for that chapter. Me? I vary. Sometimes I'm 1k, sometimes up to 3k, then the next chapter might only be 2k or less.

You might find you cover more than one thing in your one chapter, so you can reduce the work to one instead of two. Do what feels comfy for you, don't think this is the only way and it has to fit this exactly. I space my stuff out to give me the room-- just in case the characters meander here and there. But if you manage to have tighter rein on yours-- compress away! LOL

Red Dragon
March 27th, 2009, 12:14 AM
Thanks. I think I'll never aim for more than 80,000 again. My novel was 117,000 and I was asked to reduce it to 80,000. I could only manage to reduce it to 92,500 words. This time I will think on a smaller scale

March 27th, 2009, 01:22 PM
*grins* If you're at 92k, you can cut it to 80k. It's what JA Konrath calls "gutting the children". You have to be ruthless, condense words and phrases, and find EVERY area you repeat information and either get rid of it or leave in only the new stuff.

What I recommend for most people who want to be within range for most print and ebook publishers is simple-- aim for 60-80k. Anywhere in there, you can add or subtract. If the company does open submissions for novellas--- JUMP ON IT! Get that novella done. It's a great way to showcase your ability to write tight and well to get your foot in the door. *grins*