Seven steps towards plot…

So last post I mentioned that this week Natania and I would be working on 7-point plots for the characters in our story.

What the hell was I talking about?

Seven-point plot is my favorite way to plot out the major narrative arc for a character over the course of a story.  It’s a refinement of the traditional 3 acts (beginning, middle, end) that helps the plot from sagging too much in the middle.  It consists, shockingly, of 7 points:

  1. Hook
  2. Turning Point 1
  3. Pinch 1
  4. Midpoint
  5. Pinch 2
  6. Turning Point 2
  7. Conclusion

However, when working out a characters arc you don’t work out the plot in that order.  Instead I do it this way:

  1. I work out what the character wants.  What are they struggling to achieve throughout the story (sometimes I give them 2 wants if it changes at some point)
  2. I fill out the conclusion – the character either getting or failing to get their want (though not always in the way they expected)
  3. I fill out the hook – I define the characters starting point (basically them in the opposite state to the one I just put in the conclusion) and then add why/how they get involved in the plot
  4. Then I go to the midpoint – what gets the character from the Hook to the Conclusion.  What’s the big midpoint thing that has to happen to them?  This also may change their want
  5. Then I do Plot Turn 1 – it’s the same sort of thing as the Midpoint, but now it’s asking what needs to happen to get the character from the Hook to the Midpoint?
  6. Next is Plot Turn 2 – same question again, but now it’s how do the characters get from the Midpoint to the
  7. Conclusion (Of note, the Plot Turns are usually what give me the most trouble)
  8. Then I fill out the Pinches if I haven’t done it out of order at some point because I got too excited.  These are basically ways to add pressure/urgency, antagonistic forces to drive the characters on

A couple of things to remember when doing this:

  • At every point except the Pinches, make sure the character is acting directly, not just reacting to some outside force
  • Make sure that you spread the events out evenly over the course of your novel, so that things don’t bunch towards one end of your novel
  • As you do these arcs for each character, events start to pile up.  If the same event shows up in multiple characters arc, then it starts to build up importance and resonance.  An event doesn’t have to play the same role for every character (eg, a death is a Conclusion for one character, a Midpoint for another, and a Pinch for a third) but as long as it affects all of them somehow it will seem “big”

And that’s pretty much it.  First draft starts tomorrow.  I’mnotscaredI’mnotscaredI’mnotscaredI’mnotscared.

One thought on “Seven steps towards plot…

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