I’m on Writer’s in the Storm Blog today, talking about my favorite plotting tool. Link is at the end of this excerpt.
Whether you’ve just finished a project or you’ve just started writing, facing the blank screen (page) is daunting. It can make even the best ideas shrivel in your head and freeze your fingers. Some believe that story structure is essential for success and advise all writers must plan their story in advance. Others believe spontaneity is crucial to creativity and advise that everyone should pants their story. What is a writer, especially a new writer, to do? Consider that both are correct. Story structure is important and spontaneity can be a boon to creativity. Neither are the only right answer. There are tools that can help writers regardless of their preferred story development method. One plotting tool for all is the story sentence.
Where Do You Start?
You stare at the screen and think that the great idea you had is really a cliché, or it’s too slight to be the epic novel you envisioned, or that the idea is only a two-step plot. Hold on. It’s not that bad. All you need is one sentence. But before we begin that, we need a common understanding of what plot means.
What is Plot?
To paraphrase and meld together definitions by Dwight V. Swain, Donald Maass, and Jessica Page Morrell:
Plot is a series of scenes where something changes. Each change builds intensity and tension and increases your reader’s sense of foreboding until there is a devastating fear that your focal character may not attain her goal. When the intensity reaches its maximum, there is a release of tension in a satisfying manner.
It’s a mouthful, but all of those things are part of the word plot represents. What changes, how things change, how intense or tension-filled your story is comes from the situation, genre, and tropes you select to build your plot. Overwhelmed yet? There are a lot of pieces to plot and it can be overwhelming. So let’s pare it down to a bite-sized chunk—the story sentence.
What is The Story Sentence?
It is not a tagline. A tagline is a tease. That’s not what we want right now…
Find this familiar? I wrote about it back in 2018. I’ve learned more about The Sentence that I share in this post. Visit WritersintheStormBlog to read all about it.
Top image by by Markus Winkler from Pixabay