Saturday, December 26, 2015

Plotting Part 3: Fleshing Out Your Story

Since it is a lot to remember to think about, I wrote a little javascript application to walk through the development of the logline, the story's theme, the 8 key transition scenes and to help develop it all into a full outline. You may find the page at:

Below are some additional considerations, divided up by story part, to help flesh out the rest of the scenes and make sure everything is covered.

Part 1

  1. How do you introduce protagonist? Is he sympathetic?
  2. Do you demonstrate his primary traits through his actions?
  3. Do the descriptions slow things down? Interrupt the story?
  4. Do you show his greatest desire? Is it the same as the external plot goal? Does he think it will solve his personal problems?
  5. Do you show his greatest Need? Does his desire conflict with this?(Will The Truth change his greatest desire to something else or will it change the means of achieving his greatest desire?)

  6. Does he already want to change his circumstances/setting? Why doesn't he?
  7. Do you demonstrate his belief in The Lie? Does he come to believe The Lie as a result of something that happens at the beginning of the story?
  8. Do you show how his past caused this belief? Hint at it? Should you? (Is the backstory significant enough to motivate the protagonist through the story?)
  9. Do you show that belief causing/could cause problems for the protagonist by creating a self-limitation, or weakness in him, or generally making him unhappy?
  10. Do you show The Lie becoming a problem for him at the start, or in the Inciting Event or the 1st Plot Point?
  11. Do you show that belief causing/could cause problems for others?
  12. Do you show him defending The Lie/refusing to change?
  13. Do you show his capacity to live by The Truth if only he believed it?
  14. Do you show the setting supporting that belief in The Lie?
  15. Do you highlight those parts of the setting that will change or appear to change in the protagonist's perceptions as a result of The Truth, or (if he does not return to the same setting at the end) which will contrast with the setting created by The Truth?
  16. Do you foreshadow The Truth, how he will learn about it, it's capacity to defeat The Lie, or how it may be tied to his greatest Need?

  17. Do you show the protagonist doing something that leads to him becoming involved in the story?
  18. Do you show him rejecting the opportunity to get involved in the story? (Resisting change.)
  19. Do you show him beginning to grow aware and uncomfortable with some of The Lie's effects by the end of Part 1? How does his use of The Lie begin to change?
  20. Do you show the protagonist making a fateful decision that ultimately leads to the 1st Plot Point? How does it result from the events in Part 1?
  21. Do you show how the events of the 1st Plot Point changes his situation? Does it change the setting or move him to another setting? Is the impact big enough? Does it "destroy his world"?
  22. Do you show him accepting or rejecting this change? Does he consider this a good or bad thing?
  23. Do you show him making a determined decision as a result of the 1st Plot Point? What is his new Goal? Was his prior goal replace or changed?
  24. Do you show how The Lie will continue to cause big trouble for him in his new situation as a result of the 1st Plot Point? 

Part 2

  1. Do you show the protagonist continuing to act according to The Lie?
  2. Do you show The Lie continuing to hamper him?
  3. Do you show his ideas about The Lie changing as he tries to hold onto it?
  4. Do you show him managing to get closer to the goal despite these setbacks?
  5. Do you show how this also pushes the thing he needs farther away?
  6. Do you show him gaining skills/knowledge/allies/resources (intentionally or not) he will need for the second half of the story?
  7. Does he see the power of The Truth demonstrated and how life might be following it?
  8. Do you reveal something new about the antagonist in the 1st Reversal?
  9. Do you reveal something now about the protagonist? 
The Turning Point/Midpoint

  1. Does a dramatic event happen at the midpoint of the story?
  2. Do you show the protagonist learning something about himself?
  3. Do you show him learning something about the antagonist or the nature of the conflict?
  4. Do you show his behavior changing as a result of these two revelations?
  5. Do you show him taking initiative in the conflict?
  6. Do you show how he begins to use The Truth to take initiative?
  7. Do you show how The Lie continues to hold him back? 

Part 3

  1. Do you show the protagonist beginning to use The Truth to resist The Lie and overcome obstacles?
  2. Do you show The Truth forcing him to change? What does it cost him? What does he give up?
  3. Do you mirror an event in the 2nd half, similar to one in the first, where the protagonist acts according to The Truth where before he had acted according to The Lie? (To show his character growth.)
  4. Do you show him continuing to hold onto The Lie, though it makes things difficult? What mistakes does he make because of it?
  5. Do you show the protagonist's renewed determination after the 2nd reversal? What did he lose? How does the antagonist cause it?
  6. Do you clearly show The Truth? Does a character explicitly state it?
  7. Does the protagonist start to betray The Truth and claim what he most wants by using The Lie? What does he give up?
  8. Do you show how the protagonist's victory is turned to defeat? How is the antagonist responsible?
  9. Do you show how The Lie made this possible?
  10. Does the protagonist choose the Truth at the end? How does it symbolically cost him his life? What important aspect of it does he lose?

Part 4

  1. How does the protagonist's choice continue to make him suffer--both mentally and physically?
  2. How does it make pursuit of his goal more difficult?
  3. Do you show the protagonist questioning his choice?
  4. Do you show him being tempted, bullied, mocked for following The Truth? How else might his belief be challenged?
  5. By what small act can he show he is a completely different person than before?
  6. Does the tension/action build throughout Part 4?

  7. How does the protagonist's personal revelation lead to or empower him to face and overcome the antagonist? Does it come before or during the climax?
  8. Does it work the other way around with the confrontation leading to the final revelation?
  9. What does he do to defeat the antagonist that he could not do before embracing The Truth?
  10. Does the protagonist get the thing he desires in addition to the thing he needs? Does he sacrifice it?Does his reason for wanting it change or perhaps it just doesn't matter to him anymore? Does focusing on the thing he needs empower him to also obtain the thing he desires?

  11. Is the resolution short, sweet and soon after the climax? Does it drag on too long?
  12. Does it tie off all the important loose ends? (Assuming you didn't deliberately leave any dangling for sequels to address)
  13. Do you clearly answer the thematic question? Does a character explicitly state the theme?
  14. Do you show how the protagonist's new situation contrasts with his starting situation? Has he returned to the beginning location?
  15. Does the ending mirror the beginning in some way? Does he demonstrate his new character?
  16. Do you give the reader a sense of how life will continue for the main characters?
  17. Does it end on the right emotional note?

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