Write Better Plot Points

A plot point is a critical juncture in a story. Without this event (or scene), the story would stall. I often ask novel writers to identify five major turning points in their stories. It helps you see the necessary forward movement to get your main character closer to the goal.
Writing Tip for Today: Here are some ideas for plot points in your novel:

  • Use the Trap Door. Scenes can end in win, lose or draw. You can’t let your MC win too easily–that’s boring. You definitely don’t want many stalemates. Again, boring. If your MC loses or the goal is thwarted, readers want to see what MC will do next. In good storytelling, the MC (Main Character) is squeezed into a tighter and tighter box–which often ends in the MC losing. Good. But don’t leave him there. She must find a hidden trap door–the key to keeping readers interested is a character who doesn’t give up, is clever and often does the unexpected. When your MC slips through the trap door (We hope a little more gracefully than the N’Sync guy on the MTV Awards), the reader knows the fight isn’t over.
  • Know Your MC’s GOAL. If you write scenes without the POV character having a set goal, the readers may not be willing to hang on. Even if readers aren’t consciously aware, they understand the logic of why a MC does and says things. An excellent technique from James Scott Bell is to keep a brief record of each scene on an outline. I advise students to write one sentence per scene on the main action and goal of the scene, but I like his addition of including both the opening lines (by cutting and pasting) and the ending lines. Later, you’ll be glad you have an abbreviated record of the entire story, scene by scene. 
  • Interview Everyone. On pivotal scenes, you might write the ways each character aside from  the MC grows and changes during that scene. By writing out other characters’ reactions to the MC, you’ll be able to see the whole story in a clearer way. Most times, you won’t end up including these other interviews in the novel, but you as the writer need to understand the effects your MC and his situation have on those around him. As in life, we don’t operate in a vacuum. The things we want and fight for make a difference to others as well. 

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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.

1 comment on “Write Better Plot Points

  1. Pingback: Writing Scenes for Your Clothesline | Linda S. Clare

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