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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Plot Point 1 Of Your Novel

It occurred to me that those writers who read my earlier entry and have never attended a workshop might be wondering what Plot Point 1 is. I'll try to do my instructor justice by recapping it in a way that makes sense. Plot points are areas of the manuscript where something changes for the protagonist. It's a pivotal point in the story, a twist you might say.

Typically a novel will have the inciting incident (or the catalyst, the thing that sets the whole story in motion), a plot point, or two, then a mid point (where your character arc really starts to develop), then another plot point or two, and finally the climax. My instructor teaches that three plot points are pretty typical though some say four or five. So when I say I'm working on plot point one that means I'm editing the first chapter where something major changes for my character.

Tuesday night I discovered my plot point one needed to be broken into two chapters. I had too much going on. The action rose and fell then did so again. Both parts of the chapter were important enough and dramatic enough to stand on their own. The ladies in my critique group helped me see that. If you've never read your work aloud to someone you really should. It made me see it in an entirely different light and helped me identify the need to break those chapters up and fix my plot point!

8 comments:

  1. Yes, I remember workshopping a novel I had written with a beautifully written, but completely boring first chapter. Nothing actually happened until chapter 2, which became clear as soon as I started sharing the novel. Chapter 2 went on to become chapter 1.

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  2. Amazing how that happens isn't it? I discovered that chapter two might end up getting cut altogether. I love it, its a great chapter but the manuscript is whole without it. Like you said, I wouldn't have known if I hadn't workshopped it!

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  3. Great advice! Thanks for sharing the plot point...helps a lot! :)

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  4. This sounds like a terrific workshop. Confidence with book-length story structure is so tough (and wonderful!) to learn.

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  5. It really is. We're flying a little blind without our instructor but I think we're doing fantastic. It's an advanced class so we're working off of what we learned at the last class and what the lesson plan was going to be. I'm kind of proud of our group for being so motivated and focused!

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  6. That's really interesting. I've never been to a workshop as a writer. It sounds really helpful.

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  7. If you ever get the chance, you should definitely go to one Wendy. Each time I've attended a workshop/retreat my writing has improved by leaps and bounds. I think they're essential for a writer's development. Hopefully my little snippets of what I'm learning help you!

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