Hello, and welcome to another What I’m Reading Wednesday post! I’m back this week with another lesson from the Advanced Fiction Writing course I’ve been taking this summer. Today’s topic is plot templates, or formulas, you can use to create any fiction story.
In the lesson, Steve Alcorn draws on Ronald Tobias’s book 20 Master Plots for the essential features of successful fiction. Following is a synopsis of five of these:
- It’s the protagonist’s story. Although there may be many characters and personalities present in your work of fiction, there is one main character, the protagonist, who should be the “star” of the show. This is the character your reader will connect with and whose journey she will follow.
- The point of all stories is change, but the plot is setup, struggle, and climax. This touches back on our previous discussion of story vs. plot. The plot is the series of physical events that cause the emotional events within the protagonist, ultimately effecting change.
- Every plot needs tension and ever-increasing conflict. Action alone will not hold your readers’ attention. There must also be a sense of anticipation caused by tension, and this is done by writing conflict for your protagonist to encounter.
- When something happens, make sure it’s important. When writing, it is vital to include action. BUT, that action needs to be relevant to the story and plot. Even if it’s well written, if it’s extraneous, it needs to be cut.
- Luck and coincidence are for real life, not fiction. While we accept coincidences in everyday life as no big deal, they stick out like sore thumbs in works of fiction. Make sure that any action you include is logical and inevitable in relation to the ongoing plot.
So there you have it – the ground rules for using plot templates effectively. To find out more about what these plot templates look like, check out the book 20 Plot Templates by Ronald Tobias.
I’d love to see examples of these principals at work in your writing. Come share with us in our Facebook group, Break the Block.