I Have a Plot (No, Really), REVISED

So after much cogitation and wailing, I have a plot for Nita.  It looks like this:

The yellow boxes in the center are the first turning point (the turn out of the stable life) the four acts and the resolution/new stable life. 

The other boxes are the PoV characters’ plot turning points, red for Nita, blue for Nick, Green for Button, and purple for Max.

It’s pretty, isn’t it?  More than that, it’s useful because it’s based on these assumptions (my assumptions for my plotting, not rules, not industry standards, just Crusie’s Theory of Plotting.  WARNING: Spoilers abound below.

Characters begin in a stable life that they’re immediately thrown out of (first turning point).
They will cling to their old stable lives until something happens that’s so revolutionary that they must change to adapt to the new normal (second turning point/wake-up call).

They will try to incorporate the new normal into the old normal, adapting as they go but still under the assumption that they can go back to where they were until something happens that’s so revolutionary that they realize they’ve changed too much to ever go back:  Everything is different now (mid turning point/point of no return).

They will pursue their goals with new energy, coping with the new normal and their new future, trying to establish secure footing when something happens that’s so devastating  that they realize they’ve lost their battle unless they do something radical, something they’ve never done before, something they’re not sure they’re capable of but have no choice but to plunge into:  (penultimate turning point/crisis/going to hell).

The last act is their Final Push, the do-or-die obligatory scene with the antagonist, the Great Battle and the final turning point (the climax) which will thrust them into a new stability (the resolution).

Each of those turning points is represented by an event, something that happens that affects the characters enough that they turn and in so doing turn the plot. Joey is killed, and Nita and Nick investigate which leads to the wake-up call: Nick kills Rich to save Nita, who now knows the supernatural is real.  Galvanized by the knowledge that Nick is getting closer and Nita now is fully read in to the situation, the big bad speeds up poisoning Nick, which leads to the point of no return: Nick can’t remember anything after 1502 but he knows he’s missing something and Nita now has to take over as Hell’s lead investigator.  They both keep fighting, at which point the Big Bad created the crisis point by sucking Nick back into Hell as a vulnerable human, thinking they’ll be weaker fighting alone (and forgetting that unlike other Devils and Devil Spawn, they have friends).  

These turning points pull the story together because they pull the characters together: Nick and Nita meet because Joey dies, but they’re pulled together because they both want to solve his murder.  Their attempts to do that bring Button and Max into the story.   Nick and Nita begin to bond because he kills Rich to save her, and they assemble a team that Button and Max will be drawn into in Act Two. When Nick is kidnapped back into Hell, that forces all four characters to cross boundaries in an effort to save him and the island.   Each turning point raises the stakes and deepens the investment each of the characters has in the fight and in each other, and sends them into the next acts as new people fighting a harder fight.  As another writer once said, each turn of the screw tightens the plot.

 

The key to pulling it all together is that those individual character turning points roughly correspond to each other, usually in response to the same event.  In the first turning point, for Nick and Nita it’s the showdown with Rich that convinces Nita that the supernatural is real and forces Nick to the realization that he’s having emotions again, since he killed his best witness to protect Nita.  Button’s comes when she agrees to have lunch with Lilith to get information out of her, siding with Nita against the police department.  And Max’s comes when he sympathizes with Nick in the scene in the Pandemonium and begins to doubt his boss.  Button’s and Max’s TPs aren’t directly in sync with the Nick and Nita’s TP, in part because their lives aren’t that closely aligned to Nita’s and Nick’s yet, but they’re tied to it by the same plot line: trying to solve the supernatural crime on Earth.  That’s a loose tie, so I have to make sure the next one is tighter.  Which the midpoint TP is: The event is Nick succumbing to the poison and losing all memory past 1502, making the others step up: Nita accepts her powers and takes the leadership of the supernatural team; Button sticks with Nita even though she’s still in shock from learning the supernatural is real and has an inherited antipathy for demons; Max sees Nick vulnerable and doesn’t tell Mammon, trying to do the smart/right thing instead of what’s best for his boss.  

The biggest gift of the individual character TPs is that it tells me what’s in the acts.  Now I know exactly what character arc has to happen in those acts for those people and I can rewrite so that the actions they do create that arc.   

I love turning points.  They make plotting so much easier.

Due to requests, a larger mostly spoiler-free version.  You’ve already read the first act so spoilers don’t count there.  Clicking won’t make it larger, but if you can make the window larger in your browser, you should be able to read it.

 

 

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42 thoughts on “I Have a Plot (No, Really), REVISED

  1. Hooray!

    I can’t wait to see how this plays out. So many tropes I love here: demon lovers, culturally mixed relationships, amnesia (! I’m a sucker for a good amnesia schtick), ghosts (kinda? Not quite sure how to classify Nick, but it doesn’t matter — immortal lover), and an interesting mystery to string the plot along. (Or drive it.) Can’t wait to see how you weave all these threads together. You got the warp; you got the strings. Weft away!

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  2. I just wish I could keep all the scenes you give us, so that I can follow the changes in the characters as you, and the girls in the basement meld them. I am really looking forward to THIS book.

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    1. I’ll put up the series of drafts of the first scene again here so that’ll be permanent. I haven’t gone back to the website because work is still being done on it and I don’t want to get in Mollie’s way. Not sure how much of the other drafts I’ll bring over. There was a LOT of stuff; I’m surprised somebody didn’t say, “Just write it and stop annoying us.”

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      1. Doing this kind of thing, letting us watch while you process and write, is never going to annoy us. It’s some of the best kind of teaching. Thank you so much!

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  3. Any way to embiggen the purty schematic? Want to study it. Need to wring every bit I can manage from Crusie’s Theory of Plotting. Just seems so *right* to me, even given Many Roads.

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    1. The problem is there are spoilers in there. You already know the first act and part of the second and the turning points;I don’t want to ruin the whole thing for you.

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        1. So it wasn’t just me who did that 🙂

          And it doesn’t work – when you enlarge it the text is still fuzzy…

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  4. Writing craft posts like these make me a better reader. I’m more appreciative of the work that went in to the books.

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  5. I’ve tried to avoid saying this because you know, pressure. I’ve never written a book, but I wrote a Masters dissertation. ‘So, when are you submitting?’ was my least favourite question. But I can no longer resist – I REALLY want to read this book!!! (yes, three exclamation marks are required).

    I’d also like to see the schematic bigger, but later, after I’ve read the book. Maybe it could be reposted then?

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    1. Yes, please, to the reposting of the schematic after the book is out. Plus, by then it’ll probably have changed a bit, right?

      I love reading about your process and, even though I always pay attention to these posts, I feel like it sinks in a little bit more each time.

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    2. I can definitely do that (if I remember; somebody remind me) but I did a spoiler free version to put up, too. Obviously not a detailed, but it might help.

      And it’s up now. For some reason, the image doesn’t open up when you click it, but if you can expand your browser window, the image should enlarge without getting too fuzzy to read.

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          1. I am a woman of a certain age – by the time you finally finish this book, send it off, revise it five times, get it published and shipped?

            I’ll have forgotten any spoilers.

            That also assumes btw that any spoilers survive your revision process. ; )

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  6. I’ll second Kari – this is the best kind of teaching. You are a great teacher. Not to mention my favorite author. I’ve loved every snippet you’ve shared with us. And I cannot wait to read the finished story.

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  7. OMG…a bit of a thread hijack, I felt like I had to share these amazing cherry sandals with you all:

    http://www.neimanmarcus.com/Gianvito-Rossi-Cherry-Denim-Strappy-100mm-Sandal-Blue/prod195780211/p.prod?ECID=NMDR__CRT&utm_medium=display%20remarketing&utm_source=NMDR__CRT

    Too expensive for my blood, but man would I be all over these if I had unlimited wealth and no sense of guilt about how I spent it… (Hopefully one of you is fabulously wealthy and/or have the perfect reason to splurge on these so I can live vicariously)

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    1. OH, WOW!!! I love these!! When I lose my mind, I’ll buy these. Even on sale. For $506. Until then, I’ll just drool over the image.

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    1. Curio. I use it second only to Word when I write. It’s amazing.
      https://www.zengobi.com/curio/
      And unfortunately only for the Mac and not on the iPad yet. Must go yell at them about the iPad.

      ETA: I put up a post with screenshots and links.

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  8. I so enjoy your process. Plus it reminds me of things I know but have forgotten that I know. I’m ghost writing again, but when I’m done I’m applying this to my WIP.

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  9. I’m working on revisions to a Contemporary romance and one its problems is the plot feels too sprawling. I thought this was because the subplots are tightly aligned enough and this confirms it. It also so shows me how to fix that–make the arcs turn on the same events.

    Now I just need to figure out how to do that.

    Thank you so much!

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      1. Totally… I’m in the discovery draft process and have just applied your above model for a bit of fun… the thing is – the main character’s first turning point has happened without her knowing just how much her world is/will change. ‘We’ know, because of the other POV, but she’s a little in the dark until the wake up call. Does that make for a weaker plot overall? Hmm

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        1. I think (not a rule, just what I think) it’s not a turning point for her unless she recognizes that everything has just changed and that she’s going to have to change to deal with it. So I’d look ahead to where the shoe drops for her and make that the turning point. Or clue her in, too.

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  10. You ARE a good teacher. It almost makes me think I want to write 😉

    And I am so glad you have figured out your turning points. This means we’ll have this book by…oh, let’s say Christmas??? 😀 😉

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    1. Any writing student I’ve ever had would agree. Except I always end, “But it’s your book, do what you want.”

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      1. Totally the hardest lesson for me to learn. Second draft usually means finding the story inside the first draft, throwing away so many of the words, and re-writing new words to make the story shine.

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