11 October 2007

Character Development and Dramatic Action


Q: How do you specifically track emotional development within the plot planner?

A: Using the Plot Planner template, plot the scenes in the Beginning ¼ of your project either above or below the line, depending on if the character is in control (above the line) or an antagonist of some sort holds the power (below the line). Note the aspects of the Character Emotional Development (CED) introduced as is now ~~ flaws, fears, secrets and all. Use a different color from the notes you write for the Dramatic Action (DA) plot line.

For example, in Folly by Laurie R. King, the protagonist is introduced as fragile, doubtful, exhausted, and fearful upon her arrival at the island. In one color, write “arrival” to note DA. In another color, write “fragile and fearful” to indicate the CED at this point.

Feeling fragile and fearful and on the edge is not a temporary emotional state (the temporary emotions belong under the “Change” column of the Scene Tracker). Feeling fragile and fearful and on the edge is where she is in her overall lifetime emotional development due to what has come before (the backstory).

The Middle section shows scenes above or below the Plot Planner line that show how the character's current emotional development affects her life on a deeper level. In the Middle, the shorthand for her emotional development usually shows how her internal antagonists ~~ her fears, flaws and secrets ~~ sabotage her from reaching her goals.

In Folly, the Crisis ~~ the scene of most intensity in the story so far ~~ the protagonist is on the brink of a full-blown breakdown. This serves as a wake-up call, a moment of no return. She now understands the extent of her fragility, but she is also given a glimpse into who she could be with focused and conscious effort.

The End shows her CED in terms of the degree to which she keeps control as she works her way to mastery. The moment of true mastery is shown in the Climax.

In essence, each set of notes in the color for CED should show a visual pattern of the CED arc.

Q: On page 156 under the PLOT PLANNER section, you mention on finding a scene where the character emotional development is at its peak. Using your scene tracker tool, how would I go about finding one?

A: Divide all the scenes on your Scene Tracker and divide by ¾. Around that mark, look for the scene where the emotional stakes are at their highest.

Q: Within the PLOT PLANNER section of your book, you have a chapter on plotting the Thematic significance. I see how it is being done through scene tracker, but how is it being plotted on the plot line so that a visual representation of the theme is seen on the plot line? I take it that was your purpose for this section and not to revert back to scene tracker? I’m a little confused as I am taking it for granted that Plot Planner and Scene Tracker should be two separate tools.

A: Yes, the Plot Planner allows you to see the different plot threads as they interplay together throughout the project. By plotting the scenes above or below the line and indicating the three plot line elements, each in a different color, a writer is able to see the ebb and flow of their scenes at the overall story level.

The Scene Tracker is meant as a way to see how the different plot threads work together within each scene.

Q:I'm confused about the definition of "scene" in the first and second halves of the book. In the first half, I was instructed not to include summaries as scenes, but in the second half (the plot planner), it says that scenes that go "below the line" include summaries. I'd already weeded out the summaries from my scene list, and now I'm confused.

A: Some of the information you may want to keep track of on your Plot Planner sometimes comes in the form of summary. Scene, however, is where the story unfolds.