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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Where the climb began

First Plot Point
This is sometimes called the point of no return. This is the first step taken toward the climax of the story. Your characters get off their collective butts and do something. Maybe they're reluctant, maybe they're eager, but they have a goal and they're heading toward it.

I say that because of how often I want to take a cattle prod to characters in something I'm reading. Yes, this includes professionally published books. I do not understand the fascination with characters who refuse to do anything or to take any initiative.

Clear conflict
As mentioned in yesterday's post, the conflict needs to be genuine and serious. It also needs to be clear to the reader -- in that there is a conflict. Mysterious antagonists with unknown plots are all well and good, but it does need to be clear that something is afoot and the characters are going to do something about it.

Other problems
Sub-plots are a common feature in books, whether they're things that must be done before addressing the major problem or parallel plotlines involving minor characters and other challenges. The short answer on what to do with them is: write a full plot sketch for each one, with all of the steps, and work them into the main plotline. A scene that's an Other Plot Point for the main plot may also be the Climax of a secondary plot.

Photo by Cindy Stover,
available at sxc.hu
Is this the beginning? 
The story might begin at the first plot point. Or maybe at the inciting incident. TV writers have developed a habit, recently, of starting just before the climax and then flashing back to tell the beginning of the story -- I hate this.  I hated it when Lovecraft told me the end of the story first, too. Then again, Lovecraft's stories all end pretty much the same.

It's a question of how much you will need to explain to the reader in exchange for beginning at a dramatic moment. Exposition is a whole 'nother series of posts, though.


mshatch said...

Yeah, the starting right before the climax was fun a couple of times but now it's a bore, just like anything else when it's overused. I've been thinking a lot about this topic in regards to the new toy I found because I want everything planned before I really begin.

Liz said...

Oh yes, I hate it when shows start right before the climax. Whenever it flashes on the screen that it's "two days ago" or "3 weeks prior" I want to scream. I stopped watching a new show (and never went back) after it did one of those three times. Didn't even finish the episode.

Sorry for the rant. It bothers me so.

DEZMOND said...

yes, we do not like passive characters nor overly passive people in important positions in real life!