Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Plotting your scenes! (Wait! Come back!) It's not so bad. Scene and Structure #12

So..... Interesting thing has happened over the course of the past year. I realized that I'm a closet plotter.  I know!!! That's what I said. *giggle* I used to think it stifled my creativity and kept me from discovering my characters true nature.... Well, not true. I've had more fun and written tons more than I'd ever thought possible. The characters don't seem to mind at all, in fact, they just keeping crawling out of the woodwork and I have to tell them to get in line. They are not pleased about waiting, but I couldn't be happier. 

On a more official note, the chapter I read this past week in Jack Bickham's Scene and Structure was about plotting too! Go figure. If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend it. I loved this quote -
"A well-organized story with inexorable forward movement -inevitable if the scenes are working right --will sweep the reader along like a raftsman being carried pell-mell down a rushing river; there will simple be no place where the reader can relax and hop off." 
OMG! Isn't that fantastic. I want that in my books, don't you. My favorite books are the ones where I felt like I had to stay up all night to finish.

A plot with scenes arranged in the most dramatic order will work in one of the following ways:

  1. The scenes will move the viewpoint character farther and farther away from any quick shortcut to the original goal.
  2. The scenes will develop through a series of disasters which heap new and unexpected woes on the character's head, but do not obviously relate to one anther.
  3. The scenes will develop in such a way that the hero must take on some entirely unrelated, shorter-term goal-quest to clear the decks for an eventual return to the original story line.
  4. The scenes will be arranged in an interleaved pattern with scenes representing other plots -subplots - most of which will relate in some distant way to the central quest, but some which may  not have anymore obvious link than the fact that they are playing out in the same setting at the same time.
  5. Scenes can be arranged under a plot assumption that puts a clear-cut time limit on the story action - a deadline which must be met - so that a clock is always ticking.
  6. The scenes will be arranged so that options dwindle.
  7. Plot complications and potentially terrible developments previously hidden from the reader can be revealed.
I don't know about you, but just reading that list starts my creative juices flowing!

Happy Reading!
Happy Writing!
Krystal Shannan


  1. Great post, Krystal! I had a similar epiphany this year. Wouldn't call myself a bona-fide plotter just yet, but I've certainly learned to value the outline! Yeah, so far my characters are whispering ahead of time how they expect things to go ;-D

  2. Krystal, needed this post. I tended to wander off on tangents until I learned to plot and loosely follow an outline. Who knew back in English class that an outline would actually come in handy. ☺ Of course, a romantic fiction outline is a bit different, but the same principle applies.

  3. Love the post Krystal - and yes - my favorite books are the ones that I stay up all night to finish! That is a definite goal to have as writers ;-)

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