12 steps in helping you plot out your story.
Having settled on the idea, consider the “What if…?” possibilities that apply directly to it, and soon your story will begin to emerge, characters, situations, backgrounds, and conflicts will spring into your mind. These are the markings of a plot, and when you organize the action into its most effective order, you will have a story.
First, ask you must ask yourself some pertinent questions, and answer them on paper. These will form your Twelve Step Recipe For Plotting:
Who is the main character?
Who or what is the antagonist?
Who are the other people in the story?
What does the main character want? What is his or her problem, goal, situation, or greatest need? This need or want will determine the kind of person the main character must be in your story.
How important is it for the individual to get what he or she wants? It should be vital. A great deal should be at stake and with serious consequences if failure occurs.
How does the antagonist prevent the main character from getting what he or she wants? This is the conflict or opposition.
What does the main character do about this obstacle? Our heroes, big and small, male and female, must be doers, not watchers. They must win through their own power, not through luck or coincidence. It is their doing something about the situation that starts the story’s action.
What are the results of his or her initial action? Here is where complication should set in. New difficulties make the main character’s situation worse than before intensifying the struggle.
What do these struggles lead to? This is the crisis, the crucial point for the main character. Things just can’t get any worse, and anytime anyone says that in a story it does.
What is the climax? This is the moment of decision, the point of no return, where intensity and interest in the story have reached their highest point. The main character must decide which way to go because of the kind of person you have made him or her. The person’s actions now governs the answer to the next question.
Does the main character accomplish his or her purpose or abandon it in favor or something else? This is story outcome, the resolution or denouncement.
What is the theme? What basic truth have you illustrated through your character’s action or reaction?