Posted by: carolannwilliams | October 24, 2009

Outlines/Plot: an exercise

Outlines can be tough. That’s because story structure can be tough.  A lot of things are going to happen to your protagonist. She’s going to have many “uh oh” moments that push her to do the next thing she must do. Which of those things is the one pivotal event after which she can never go back to what she was at the beginning of the story? It’s frequently no easy task to figure that out.

In the case of The Wizard of Oz, for example, some might argue that just landing in Oz and needing to find her way home is going to change Dorothy. How could it not? Well, true in a way, but how it changes Dorothy is the subject of the tale, and the plot is structured around that. Dorothy starts as an innocent farm girl from Kansas, powerless at home, and ends, having vanquished evil, with her knowledge that she’s powerful and always has been. How different would the story be if the Wizard had just sent her home when she asked?

That’s the exercise. Outline a revised plot with the beginning just as you know it (Dorothy on the farm in Kansas) and the ending being the Wizard sending her home. What will the pivotal event be that will change her forever? How will other events in the story as we know it need to be different leading up to the Turn and following the Turn? You’ll find you have a whole new story. Who knows? Maybe it will be great. Maybe it will be the start of a new book (characters’ names changed) for you!

(For more on plot structure search my blog for previous posts, especially, though not exclusively, September 6.)

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