09 February 2013

Finding the Through-line, the Primary Plot

She stakes her claim on her story boldly and with confidence. Quickly, it becomes apparent to me that the writer is speaking in a different language. I stop her mid-sentence and ask her what happens at the climax of her story. She pauses and then continues. Still, in the foreign language. I stop her again.

"Rather than tell me about the special features and functions of the outer-space suits they're wearing and all the other technical details about the exotic world you've created for your story, tell me what the protagonist does at the climax."

She takes a stab at answering my question. Before she can leap back to her place of confidence and try to wow me with the authentic details of her story, I ask her what happens to the protagonist at the crisis of her story.

Again, another good attempt at an answer.

Not giving her a chance to say anything further, I ask her what affect the crisis has on the protagonist or, in other words, what does she learn at the crisis that helps her prevail at the climax?

The longer I probe and the deeper we dig, slowly the through-line or the primary plot that drives the external action of the story emerges. Unencumbered by the techie jargon and heavy details, the writer is free to roam the galaxy she's created in search of the dramatic action, character emotional development and thematic significance of her tale.

Yes, the authentic details she's dreamed up make her story unique and the establishment of all the inner workings of the story world is important.

Stepping back and evaluating the story at the overall plot and Universal Story level is essential.

Today, I write.

Knowing what to write where in a story with a plot allows for a more loving relationship with your writing. Whether writing a first draft or revising, if you falter wondering what comes next in a story with a plot, follow the prompts in The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing.

To familiarize yourself with the basic plot terms used here and in the PW Book of Prompts:
1) Watch the plot playlists on the Plot Whisperer Youtube channel.
2) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master
3) Fill out the exercises in The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories
4) Visit:
Blockbuster Plots for Writers
Plot Whisperer on Facebook

Plot Whisperer on Twitter