The Point of Plotting

by | May 19, 2009 | Fiction Book Reviews | 0 comments

I’m attending the Blue Ridge Christian Writers’ Conference this week in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Besides spending my days in the lovely Blue Ridge Mountains, I have the opportunity of listening to some fabulous presenters and meeting lots of other authors. As icing on the cake, this conference is a ‘Christian’ conference, which means the worldview expressed in the presentations is Christian – so there is a primarily positive feel about it. So far, it’s been great.

My first course is Plotting Like a Pro by Ron Benrey, author and literary agent. Ron started the class by asking some pointed questions about plotting.
1. Who is the hero?
2. What does the hero want?

The answers to these two questions help identify whether you have a well-developed plot or are still floating through the fog of creativity. The answers to these two questions should be short and to-the-point. Can you answer these in one to two sentences?

Also, Ron discussed the two ‘wants’ of the hero: An internal want and an external want. Well-defined characters have both. External wants are usually physical and internal wants are typical the emotional aspects or needs. For example, in the Spiderman movie, one of Peter Parker’s external ‘wants’ is Mary Jane. An internal want would be his need to ‘prove’ himself because he feels guilty about his uncle’s death…or some other emotionally driven reason.

Two other needs of a story are conflict and opposition. Of course, one can lead into another, since opposition usually causes conflct, but the driving force of a novel is conflict. Without conflict the story doesn’t move forward.

Conflict can be internal or external and it occurs throughout the entire book. There is a major conflict (or two) and minor ones sprinkled throughout to keep the emotional energy levels high.


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