Author Lisa Cron shares a checklist for creating a solid plot for your story, and applies that checklist to a specific example, demonstrating how to get your reader engaged.
- Let's zero in on what your story's actually about. What's your story's point? Ask yourself, "What is my story leading up to?" "What will people walk away thinking about?" Remember, writers are the most powerful people in the world because they can change how others see the world. How will your story change your readers' world view, even if only by a smidge? Second, what's your story's theme? Ask yourself, "What does my story say about human nature?" The brain is wired to turn to story to make sense of the world, so we probe each story for useful information that will better help us understand what makes people tick. What's your story saying about what it means to be human? Third, do the protagonist's inner issue, the theme, and the plot work together to answer the story problem? The story problem will always be in the back of the reader's mind. So everything in the story must revolve around how it's solved. With that in mind, ask yourself, "Is my theme reflected in the way "people treat my protagonist?" "Does each plot twist force my protagonist "to deal with the inner issue that's holding him back?" Finally, can you sum up what your story's about in a short paragraph? Yeah, this is hard. There's an old saying that goes, "If only I had more time, I could have written less." Take your time with this. Because it's well worth it. If you can concisely sum up what your story will be about, so that you're aware of what it's point is, it will be far easier to write. After all, since a story is about someone solving a problem, it's best to know precisely what that problem is before you begin writing. Now see if you can sharpen your skills with the example from your exercise files. Dive into this set of events and give this story what it's missing, a point.
- What is a story?
- Hooking your reader
- Feeling what the protagonist feels
- Being specific
- Creating suspense and conflict
- Writing flashbacks and subplots