Major plot-lines

Back to writing now.  I’ve moved on to Step 5 of Martha Alderson’s How to Plan and Plot a Novel (or screenplay, etc.), a video series she’s posted on YouTube.  This step involves thinking about the two main plot lines or threads that will hold my story together.

The first is the dramatic action plot.  This is the “movement” part of the story, the thread that moves the story along, that engages the reader, and keeps the reader in suspense.  This is critical in giving a certain energy to the overarching story.

The second is the character’s emotional development plot.  This thread is important in engaging the reader and is where the reader begins to identify with the main character.

Both are important and both need to be present in some way.  With no emotional development of the main character, a book that focuses mainly on dramatic action will come across as kind of flat.  Without dramatic action and energy, a book that only looks at a character’s emotional development can leave the reader, well, a little bored.

Now, these plot lines have been introduced already in Martha’s series in Step 1 and Step 2, but she re-inserts them here (I believe) as a way of helping the writer reflect again on what the overall action line will be — what happens when — and how the main character will change and develop as the story evolves.

This step was very helpful in forcing me to sort out which of those two aspects were the most important in my story.  Will my story be one in which the dramatic action is the most important part, or will the emotional development and evolution of my main character be the most important driver?  It made me realize that my original thought had been to focus on the dramatic action, but unless I also work on really developing my main character (who still doesn’t have a first name at this point — I’ll have to work on that!), on describing who she is and what’s driving her, the story will be pretty shallow and potentially unsatisfying.

Martha also encourages the viewer to think about whether there will be a romantic sub-thread to the book.  In my case, there will be kind of a romantic angle, but it’ll be subordinate to the main story, not the main story itself.  And it’ll be, well, not exactly twisted but not the typical thread one would expect.  More to come on that front!


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