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6 Steps to Creating Your Plot Premise
Chapter 2 “Creating a Plot” – Section 1 “Plot Premise”
Unlike what I once thought, plot is not a natural result of telling a story. Plot, like all other parts of writing, is a craft that must be studied and then designed with purpose. That being said, there are many different ways that one creates a plot—and countless theories as to how they can be created with the most efficiency. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to teach you several of these techniques and help you to create a Plot Outline. Many people are against such structure in their writing, even many good writers. However, my purpose for this book is to create a system so that ANYBODY can write a novel—even those who cannot subconsciously create a plot in the back of their minds. I encourage all of my readers to follow this system, or to modify it in a way that suits you best, as an exercise to discover what creative feats your mind can accomplish given limitations and structure—similar in spirit to writing poetry in traditional forms. Today, we're going to work on creating a clearly defined, and professional Plot Premise for your outline.
Step 1: Jot down the premise and plot ideas you have for your story. (Story Journal)
Doing this creates a thought bank for you to store all the thoughts you have for your story. This way, all of your energy can be put into piecing these thoughts together in the order that you want them, instead of trying to keep them all sorted in your head. I encourage you to just open a Word Document, jot down your ideas in sentence form, and create whatever sort of order you want of them after they are all written down.
Step 2: Establish basic information about your main protagonist. (Prologue)
Once upon a time there lived a “blank” who lived in “blank” and was known as the sort of person who did “blank”. If you're a writer, or want to be one, chances are that you've already been thinking a lot about your protagonist. We'll worry about polishing him or her up later. For now, just establish a general idea of what sort of character will be driving your story.
Step 3: Figure out what change in your character's life triggers the story. (Inciting Incident)
The plot (a series of events that change the character) is what separates a story from a vignette (which is a glimpse into a character's day to day life). What happens to your protagonist to set the story into motion? Do they fall in love? Does their family die? Is the world invaded by aliens? Do they move to a new school?
Step 4: Decide how your protagonist determines to react to the change. (Call to Action)
The reason that a plot revolves around a protagonist is that they are the ones who strive for some goal—the ones driving the story. Write down how the protagonist reacts to the Inciting Incident. Do they try to make themselves more adept? To set out on a quest? To hunt someone down? To get somewhere safe? To figure out a way to be accepted by their peers? To win their beloved's heart?
Step 5: Determine what force will try to prevent the protagonist from achieving their goal.(Antagonist)
This force can be another character, several characters, nature, god, society, self, and even the person that your protagonist has fallen in love with. Just make sure that there is some force that is keeping the protagonist from his or her goal.
Step 6: Put the pieces together, and finalize your Plot Premise.
“My story is about a protagonist named “blank” who was a “blank” (Prologue). Until, one day “blank” happened (Inciting Incident). And so the protagonist decided to “blank” (Call to Action). But he/she had to overcome the “blank” (antagonist) if he ever hoped to achieve his/her goal. By filling in the blanks, you have created a professional Plot Premise, which will be the basic information that will hook readers and kindle interest in your story. I advise writing it down, and making it the first sentence in a new Word Document entitled “Story Outline,” which we will continue to add to until we finally begin writing the novel.
You'll note that many of the terms I have highlighted have no links connected to them. As we continue with this journey, I plan to create a guide for each and every step in the process. So please bear with me until I am able to do that, and feel free to ask questions about the many topics, as well as to suggest material and themes for relating topics. Thank you.
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