Hi there, a quick tip about how to plot your story in a very easy way. And bear in mind you can always refine and elaborate it later when better ideas arrive. It is a starting point or a fresh way of thinking.
Firstly, imagine a steep hill.
At the top of that hill is your protagonist’s goal. They do have a goal right? You need a clear goal. What does your protagonist need? What will they die for / strive to achieve?
To achieve that goal your protagonist must climb up the hill and overcome every challenge you can throw at them. The harsher the challenges, the more engaging the feat.
Now, find a big piece of paper. Draw a steep curve from bottom (left) to top (right) – this is your Plot Hill.
In pencil, at the bottom of your hill write the protagonist’s starting place and their status. These needs to be pathetic or loathsome and far from their goal.
Starting at the bottom, add each step in your protagonist’s journey up the hill, one on top of the other.
When you have a continuous journey from ‘nowhere’ to your protagonist achieving their goal, you will have the bare bones of your story.
For sub-plots, draw a fresh hill for a fresh goal and add the relevant steps. The two Plot Hills can be later intertwined into a larger hill. And then you can write it up as a sequence from your beginning to middle to your end.
If you have ideas with sufficient drama, you will already have low points, challenges, confrontations, set-backs, twists and such like. If not, back away, find a fresh piece of paper and try again a few days later. And note – you need a clear goal that is challenging to attain and with lots of challenges. The rest is your protagonist’s journey up your Plot Hill.
Here’s a quick example (read from the bottom up):
Hilltop Goal : Recover the Black Pearl
Sails the Black Pearl away, leaves the captain
Defeats the Pearl’s captain & steals his booty
Boards the Black Pearl at night with his allies
Lures the Pearl’s captain to a deserted cave
Tricks the Pearl’s captain with promises of gold
Reaches Tortuga and finds the Pearl’s crew ashore
Pleads with Calypso to raise the wind
Becomes becalmed at sea, with no wind
Follows his magical compass
Sets course to find a hidden island in the fog
Escapes from the British
Steals a British Naval ship by tricking some soldiers
Recruits a miscreant crew from a rowdy public house
Finds Gibbs and sobers him up
Escapes from jail
Convinces someone to help him
Pirate, in jail, waiting to be hanged
START HERE – and read back up the hill
Try it and see how you get on. It should be quick and painless, provided you have enough ideas for challenges. If not, come back later when your subconscious has got to work. And don’t worry about the order of events – you can refine those later. You did write in pencil?
D M Jarrett
Author of Sean Yeager Adventures
Awesome books for bright, young minds