Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sticking Points, Oh Sorry, I Meant Plot Points

You have to have plot points. Well, I mean if you want to have a plot that is.

There are just points along the way where you HAVE to have something happen.

Let's say you started the story with your Hero HAVING to get to Los Angeles. So we are heading to Los Angeles.

However your big climax happens to occur in the French Quarter.

Ok, we have to at some point take a left turn and go down to Louisiana, right?

YOU as the writer has to make that left turn because gosh darn it, you want to get New Orleans.

However, the reader should NEVER know that you HAVE to get to Mardi Gras.

This 'turn,' this plot point that must be executed, however we want to 'cover' this fact up.

We want this plot point to feel organic and a part of your story and not feel the author's 'hand.'

But how to do that?

Seeding things helps.

I like to reference Lord of the Rings here. Clearly Tolkien needed to get Frodo into Mordor. Equally clearly he needed to make that journey intimate.

However the thrust of the plot was to get to the GATES of Mordor. But ultimately Tolkien knew he was going to go the 'secret' back way.

Luckily he seeded this. Gollum had suggested it. Sam, who has been WELL established to not trust Gollum, shot him down. Only by being in peril and the impossibility of scaling the main gate, do they finally decide to go the 'secret' way.

This was a massive plot point that could have stuck out like a sore thumb, but instead felt organic and you felt as desperate as the characters to have to take this perilous journey.

The lesson here is that if you have a major plot point coming, seed it. Mention and discard the idea. Put up resistance to the Mardi Gras. New Orleans simply is NOT an option.

Then when you get to the plot point you need to make Los Angeles simply unattainable. Whatever they feared about Louisiana becomes so much less than the disastrous conditions in California.

Or they are forced to Mardi Gras. Someone has been kidnapped. A vital piece of information or item has been moved to New Orleans.

Whatever it is, it must MAKE sense. It must feel motivated by the story, the characters, and the environment.

Your Assignment: Find a major plot point in your story. Does it feel like a major plot point? #RutRo

Find at least 1 way to 'soften' and camouflage this point.

Now do it to the rest of them :-)

Until next time!

Don't forget that "Plain Jane" (a Patterson, "Kiss the Girls" style thriller) is out!
Read 50 pages for free at Smashwords:
To sweeten the pot here's a 50% off coupon: RH88E


  1. OK, I bought it. This is the wonder of Smashwords. Why bother reading 50 pages free when I can get the whole thing for under three dollars?

    Of course, since you recommended it, I'll insist on letting you know what I thought.

  2. I bought Plain Jane and I am loving it!

  3. Most generous post, from the writing tips and the format, to the new publication info at the end. Most generous blog all around! Peace and all good,