Writing Tip #4 – How to effectively develop a plot

What do you know about the elements that make up a plot?

Committing to write something, regardless of how many words it is, is difficult. Not only do you have to come up with characters, and a setting, but you are also tasked with creating a universe and timeline for the events of the character’s life to transpire. As a Christian, and a firm believer in God, I believe that life is more than just a random series of events. When we write, we must write a story as more than just a random series of events.

Below, I will lay out the key components to a plot, and talk briefly about each one.

The Introduction

The introduction of the story marks the very beginning. The reader doesn’t know anything at this point. It is during this part that you introduce 3 key things:

  • The main character (and some supporting characters) – without a character, this story wouldn’t happen. Your main character can be a rock star, or a middle schooler, or a goldfish.
  • The setting – without a setting, the story has nowhere to take place. It is within the introduction that you establish where the story takes place
  • Why the story started here – typically, there is a reason the story starts where it does. Maybe the main character just got a new job, or their parents died, or they moved to a new town. Perhaps, it is to give background information that is apparent later in the novel.

Narrative Hook

The narrative hook is the part of the story that tells the readers why the are reading. Up until this point, they have only been introduced to the idea of a story. This is the make-or-break moment in a lot of stories, because it is where things begin to get interesting.

This could be the moment where a character gets an interesting lead in a murder case. Or the moment a character discovers they are something other than what they believe, and seek to learn more about it. Perhaps, it is the moment a character sets out on an adventure to destroy darkness in the world.

The narrative hook does not have to be big, or elaborate. But it has to grab the readers attention. Like I said, up until this point the reader has simply been getting to know your characters. They need a reason to stay. What is that reason?

Rising Action

The rising action leads up to the climax. This is the part where your character is gathering all of the information necessary to reach the climax. This is the part where the reader continues to learn more about the story, and becomes more involved with what the characters are thinking and doing. Everything, no matter how small it is, must lead up to the climax of the story.

Maybe this is a murder mystery, and they are gathering clues to find the murderer. Or, the main character is learning more about themselves. They could be finding the path to the light in the midst of darkness.

The rising action is the build up, the journey, to the climax. It includes the necessary character development, and the

The Climax

This is the part your novel has been building up to. It is one moment, unlike the others, where something happens that defines the story. The climax shouldn’t be a surprise, though. The rising action should build up to the climax so that it is a realization.

This could be the realization of the murderer. Or, the moment the main character must confront their past, and come to terms with who they are. It could even be the moment when the character confronts the darkness.

Whatever the climax is, it should be the part that the reader didn’t know they were waiting for.

Falling Action

This comes immediately after the climax, and it is how the characters work to get out of the situation they are in. This can tie up loose ends, and resolve the conflict.

It could be the characters tracking down and arresting the murderer, or a character battling the villain and winning, or even a character giving their life for their friends.

Resolution

The resolution of the story is the final outcome. This is the ‘happily ever after,’ so-to-speak. It doesn’t necessarily have to be happy, if that’s not the kind of story you’re writing, but it should give a sense for how the story has changed the characters. This can also lead the way for the following book (if this is a series.)

A story can come in many different forms, and these parts don’t have to look alike. Every story is unique in its own way. So, know the technical stuff, but give yourself room for creativity. Write what’s in your mind, and fix it as you go. A first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. Neither does a second draft, nor a third draft. That’s okay.

Did this help you? Tell me in the comments below!

 

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