I wanted to share a quick writing trick that I use when mapping out the plot of a story. As you know, great stories are a blend of story, pacing, great characters, dialogue. I like to see great stories as an intellectual meal. So many great tastes and textures, brought together, to make a memorable experience that you can re-live again and again.
But how to get started? I have all of these great scenes – how do I bring this together into a complete story arc? How do I avoid getting half-way through this draft only to realize I have no way to end it? These are some of the questions and fears you’ll address as a first-time writer. I’m here to give you a tool to get you past those roadblocks. Ready? Here goes:
Take out a blank sheet of paper, or open a Word doc and write this in big 72-point font:
And Then What Happened?
Next, write out the synopsis of your first scene. Three or four sentences – here’s an example:
“Hero wakes up after 3 weeks in hypersleep. Looks around abandoned space station and realizes that he is A) alone and B) the crew appears to have died violently. A few clues point to the fact that something very bad has happened. Hero finds a heavy pipe that looks like it might be used as a weapon.”
Now look back at your sheet of paper and ask yourself your big four-word question: And then what happened? Really! Seriously! You’re in charge. Tell me what happened next!
Sometimes the answer can be scary (“Hero finds mutant and has to beat it to death”) or boring (“Hero looks around … finds blood on wall and a broken gun”). The cool thing about a scary story is that when you write a boring sentence in a scary story, it isn’t boring – it’s ‘part of your slow build’!
The point of this plot mapping is that it helps you avoid plot holes and traps before you get cracking on your draft. Just like cooking a meal – it’s much better to figure out that you’re missing a key ingredient while you’re planning it versus when you are ready to serve. Go nuts – see what you come up with – I’m curious to see how this helps you!
Flotilla is a contemporary adventure fiction novel about a world that will soon exist on the ocean. Jim is thrown from rehab into a seasteading community filled with strange and dangerous characters. When a terrorist attack hits nearby Los Angeles, will he be able to rise above his past to save himself and his sister?
Flotilla is a crossover adventure and science fiction story. Fans of Blade Runner, Firefly and Star Wars will love the fast-paced adventure. Fans of Neuromancer, Snow Crash and Neverwhere will latch onto the science fiction, the characters and the rich texture of Flotilla’s universe.
Technically accurate, honest and hysterical – Flotilla is attracting fans from all over the world.
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Latest posts by Daniel Haight (see all)
- Guest Post: And Then What Happened – Daniel Haight - September 13, 2012