Pump Up the Plot Points

Plot Points are those magical scenes in a novel which in ways mimic the inciting incident. Also known as pivotal points or scenes, if you storyboard your novel you should be able to spot several of them, including the inciting incident as well as the climax scene.
Writing Tip for Today: As you work through a draft of your novel you should be able to tell the difference between pivotal scenes and connective scenes. If the reader has to wade through too many connective scenes before another pivotal plot point occurs, you risk losing that reader. Here are a few more things to remember about plot points:

  • A plot point is a scene which must take place or the story doesn’t work. It must also be very specific in terms of the goal, the setting and the characters in the scene.
  • A connective scene isn’t as tied to the main story so it might occur in one of several places, or be acted out through characters other than the main antagonist. Note that just because it isn’t a plot point, a connective scene is a necessary scene. For instance, if a protagonist expresses the desire to leave the area and then her car burns up, it adds a complication to the plot but isn’t a plot point–in other words, it moves the story, but is not a “big” scene.
  • I’m often asked if there can be more than one climax. The simple answer is no. The climax refers only to the central goal/obstacle of the novel. Subplots and complications might have their own consequences, but the climax scene should revolve around that stated goal/obstacle.
  • In Writing Dialogue, author Gloria Kempton states that a novel should contain at least 12 plot points.
  • Kempton goes on to say that adding exciting, passionate dialogue often lifts a scene into the plot point category.

Try This! In your draft, identify at least 12 plot point scenes. Could you revise to pump up some scenes for higher impact?

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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