Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Krystal Shannan Discusses - Strategic Master Plot....How to Write one - Scene and Structure #14

We've reached the end of a fabulous book. I'm sad and excited at the same time. I've learned so much from Jack Bickham's Scene and Structure, but at the same time I am so ready to pick up a different book and learn new stuff from another teacher. This final post discusses his last chapter on the Scenic Master Plot. First off, what I'm going to post is NOT a fill-in-the-blank recipe for a novel. It's an example of form. It's a picture of how a novel "could be" organized. 

"Good fiction is characterized by movement - meaning linear development from A through B to C in some kind of cause-and-effect relationship."

In building your master plot or blueprint for your novel, the ultimate goal is to keep the suspense high. As a reader myself, most of the times that I abandoned a book was for this reason. It let me disengage.

The example Jack uses is a short novel (225 pages/50K words) REMEMBER, nothing is set in stone - this is merely a peek at one perspective and the planning that might go into it.

This may or may not be used. If used, it is made of a single scene, or two or three fragments. Its sole intention is to establish an immediate threat, aura of violence, ense of drama or romance, or whatever will intrigue and hook the reader. (4-5 pages max)
Ch 1
2-3 scenes. Establish main character POV. By the end, we should know the main question or story goal for the character.
Ch 2
2-3 scenes. Establish opposite lead character's POV. Romantic question should be introduced by the end of the chapter.
Ch 3
Subplots start to take shape. Be sure to escalate the stakes, keep the reader engaged.
Ch 4
2-4 scenes main character POV. He/she is struggling with a problem. Ticking clock. Quest.
Ch 5
3-4 scenes opposite lead's POV. More subplot, perhaps some background. Remember to tantalize the reader. Don't tell them everything.
Ch 6 
3 scenes in main character POV. ACTION ACTION ACTION. Be sure to hook this chapter to the next so the reader can't take a break.
Ch 7
Climactic scene continues, still in main character's POV. Hidden problem arises, throws a wrench in plans, DISASTER STRIKES, totally unexpected
Ch 8
3-5 scenes and sequels. Possibly a couple in main character POV and then switch halfway through. Everyone is trying to recoup and catch their breath from the disaster and make plans. Romance becomes stronger.
Ch 9
2-5 scenes all in main character POV. Starts ahead with best laid plans, but all are thwarted, ticking clock, more ACTION. Hook to next chapter.
Ch 10 
No time gap. Switch to opposite lead POV. Trying to solve the problem standing between two main characters HEA.

As you can see, with these short blips on what he put in each chapter, you can start to envision your own WIP or project. Think about the blueprint of what needs to happen and you will be surprised where your characters lead.

Be sure to check out everyone else's tips today too!

Tammy Dennings Maggy (Tammy Smith)

Happy Writing,
Happy Reading,
Krystal Shannan


  1. After I read this post, I went back and read through the other posts on this theme. It was easy to put the principles right into my current WIP and I took a few notes as I was reading. Thanks for sharing so much useful information.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post. As I went through it I could see many of the books I have read in this model/structure.