Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Writing Basics: The Six Stages of Plot

It seems like everyone wants to be a writer, doesn't it? He does, she does, I do, and -- chances are -- you do too.

This is a potentially overwhelming realization: If everyone is writing, how can you hope to possibly a) get published and b) get a large enough fan base to continue publishing?

Obviously enough, your first step to becoming a renowned writer with hordes of fans is to actually write something. You may be thinking "Majesta, this is a no-brainer. How else am I supposed become a professional writer?!" Though the idea is a self-explanatory one, there are many aspects of story writing; so many, in fact, that it would be fairly easy for you to overlook an imperative component on your road to success. 

Let's start with the basics of story writing: What is one of the most important aspects of a story? The plot.
Plot is the sequence of events in a story. Let's look at the six stages of plot.

Plot Diagram
1. The Exposition
This is the very beginning of your story. It is here that you introduce the who and the where. You want to give your reader a sense of who your characters are, what they look like, a hint at their aspirations, and their relationship to other characters in the story. In addition, you want to give your reader a firm sense of place. Don't skip out on those important sensory details when describing your setting. You want to engage your readers and pull them into the story, and nothing does that better than helping them "see" the story.

2. The Introduction of Conflict
This is the point at which you insert the major conflict into your story. The conflict can be seen as the most important element of a successful story, because without a conflict, you do not have a story. If you look at the above plot diagram, you will notice that the introduction of the conflict is what spurs the plot to undergo drastic change. Now, there are a variety of ways to go about actually inserting conflict into your story. You can be subtle, slow, or glaringly obvious. The choice is up to you, but the major thing is making sure you get that conflict in there.

3. The Rising Action
This is where you really engage your readers interest. You have set the stage with the exposition, you have written in a stellar conflict, now your job is to provide a series of events that will keep your readers on the edge of their seats. This is also the area of your story where you, the writer, get to have the most fun. Send your protagonist on an adventure, throw in some minor enemies and a couple of major ones, add a love interest or two, make some major obstacles for your protagonist to overcome, etc. You get the point. The rising action is where most of the story happens, so feel free to play around here. 

4. The Climax
Here is where your story reaches its uppermost peak. You want your readers to be so enthralled with your story at this point that they refuse to put your book/short story down. As you can see in the diagram, the climax is the turning point of your story, the place at which all of the events in your rising action come to a head: for example, your protagonist finds out the villain who has been ruining his life is actually his girlfriend/sister. See what I mean? You want your climax to be the amazing, surprising, penultimate event in your story.

5. The Falling Action
This is the point where your characters begin to recover from the events that took place during the climax. You want to show how your characters, especially your protagonist, are recuperating from the climax. This is a great place to have your characters have a bit of inner reflection; you could use this as an opportunity to reveal a new aspect of your character's personality. You could even use this inner reflection to insert doubt into your readers' minds about your characters' morality: Where the characters really the good guys?

6. The Denouement
This is the part of your story where all conflicts -- both major and minor -- are resolved (NOTE: If you are writing a serial, you will just resolve a few minor conflicts here. Or, if you are that type of author, resolve a few minor conflicts while simultaneously inserting new ones.). You want to tie up all loose ends and leave your reader with a clear picture of how the story is ending. It is especially important to write a good, clear, tidy ending to your story if you are not writing an installment in a larger series: if you leave a stand alone book with a cliffhanger, you may turn potential fans of your writing into harsh, unyielding critics.

Are you a burgeoning or pro writer? How do you utilize the six stages of plot in your own writing?


Adil Vp said...

A simple-to-follow guidelines. Great work...

Majesta Miles said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Adil :)