31 January 2012

#1 Plot Problem for Writers

I am often asked what the #1 problem writers have with plot. My answer varies, depending on the most recent plot consultation or plot workshop I've just done.

Today I say as I have before, the #1 plot problem writers struggle with is the climax and resolution.

So much time and thought and writing goes into developing a compelling protagonist with a mysterious back story, deciding where is the exact right beginning of the story, how to make the action exciting and the book concept big, the details just right, the dialogue snappy, the setting exotic, the crisis disastrous.

I rarely (and I mean rarely) find a writer who has thoroughly thought out the climax and written the end quarter of the story as many times or more than the beginning.

Sure, writers bog down in the middle and thus the climax seems incredibly far away -- nearly out of reach. By the time a writer limps her way to the climax, the story is lucky to have an ending at all, much less an ending that is meaningful and different and leaves the reader satisfied and wanting more.

The end of a romance novel, even if it is for a teen, especially if it is for a teen, is so much more than... they lived happily ever after. You have been so careful not to use cliched phrases, metaphors, settings and have worked to make every element uniquely your own. Why settle for a cliched ending?

When a character rises in triumph at the climax. What does she look like, act like? In the resolution, what does the world look like now that she is new and different and transformed and has shared the gift she came to share?

Everyone is looking for answers. Stories offer a new vision to replace the old, especially now that so much of the old world order falls apart.

Take an ending you're sure has no value and turn it on its ear. See the ending from a different angle or perspective. Write that.

Strive to give the reader something new and fresh and miraculous...

To familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and the basic plot terms in the above blog post:
1) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master (Now also as a Kindle edition)

2) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. A directory of all the steps to the series is to the right of this post. 27-step tutorial on Youtube

3 Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. A directory the book examples and plot elements discussed is to the left of this post.

For additional tips and information about the Universal Story and plotting a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook
Plot Whisperer on Twitter