A Week to Remember: The Plot

Arch2Traditionally, I’ve never been one for using outlines before writing. I always felt that it stunted my flow of muse; shorted out the creativity and freedom and surprise of not knowing where my story was headed.

However. I competed in NaNoWriMo last November and learned my lesson. All the freedom and creativity I could muster wasn’t going to get me past the “honeymoon” phase of writing a novel. The nooks and crannies of the character’s motives and inner thoughts needed to be mapped out or they’d fizzle on the page, left untouched due to frustration and boredom.

So, on Day Two of the Young Writers’ Summer Studio, we discussed the Plot Arc. Drawn on my board as a roller coaster, I plotted out the points of the arc: The Beginning (Introduction to the character and their world), The Inciting Incident (the moment the main Conflict is mentioned), The Rising Action (The bulk of the story which details the conflict and how the main character and minor characters are affected by this problem,  The Climax (that ultimate battle where everything comes to a head and the main character either wins or loses), The Falling Action (how all the characters fare after the climax) and The Conclusion (all loose ends wrapped up, all questions and issues resolved, once way or anther.)

I then introduced the young writers to my favorite writing tool: Note Cards!

They were excited to spread out and utilize all the couches, chairs and window seats of the clubhouse. With note cards and plot arc in hand, the students were instructed to write one scene per note card and arrange the cards in the order they thought was most interesting.

How proud I was to see these young writers flex and meld with the tools given to them to fit their style and practice of writing. I was also in awe with how quickly they mapped out the plots. Sure, there were questions and switching of scenes; but no second guessing, no doubt about what their stories would become. I learned from these writers the true essence of creating: love of the craft and belief in oneself.

To be continued, tomorrow…



Filed under Advice, Novels, teaching

2 responses to “A Week to Remember: The Plot

  1. Liz

    I wish I could have been there with my own set of notecards. Sounds like a great activity or a writer of any age!

    • I wish you were there, too, Liz! The cool thing about these exercises is that are a benefit to all ages of writers. I learn more while I teach than just by reading alone. Not to mention the vast energy these young writers exude – it’s contagious!

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