“You had me at the lede.” In my past, a story would jump off the page and I immediately knew I wanted to read it. Today, the story often assumes I already care. Where is the passion? Why does the lede seem to fall flat? I’m finally figuring out why I no longer eagerly anticipate the newspaper; none of the ledes grab me.
“There’s blood on the sidewalk.”
“A homeless guy got beat up.”
“Shouldn’t that be washed off?”
“Do we have anyone who cleans it up?”
“He comes on Fridays.”
“It’s been there two weeks.”
“He must have taken the week off.”
“It should be cleaned up. Should we call him?”
“I was on vacation last week.”
“But it looks bad.”
“I can’t be here for everything.”
“Listen, are we going to have to have a fight?”
“There’s no need to get hostile.”
“Keep it up and there’s going to be more blood on the sidewalk.”
Notes from a webinar on plotting a story
Plotting Mnemonic (Annie Lamott)
- If you plot feels too thin, it does not need more events or back story or characters – it needs layers and complexity.
- Every chapter and scene must keep things changing for your character.
- What does the character want? Who or what is keeping them from it?
- Exploit character flaws and physical obstacles.
- The stakes must increase for your character – the goal must be solved at all costs.
- Your character must have a clear, consistent motivation. The goal should be clear early on in your novel – even though the way the goal looks can change.
- Describe the story you plan to write in one sentence.
- Characters must grow and learn. They must develop their external and internal goals and motivations.
- Plot is about entertaining your readers.
- Beginning – This is where the main character makes a decision to act – because of something that’s happened, usually, which has created a goal
- Middle – The action itself. Keep the reader turning the page. Have a structure plan to decide where action should take place and keep you focused on the plot, i.e. Three Act Structure. Keep the tension rising, with more obstacles and challenges or possibly twists – leading up to “All Is Lost”. Think about the “but” and “so” of the event or scene.
- End – The climax. Resolve the main conflict of your main character. Ends come about because of the character’s actions. Look at the middle and make sure the end has an impact; make it memorable.
Plot and Structure – James Scott Bell
© 2017, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.
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