Finishing your First Draft - Day Six
Now that you could basically teach a college class on characters (I have that much faith in you), it’s time we spoke about plot.
Even though characters are the lifeblood of a story, you need a fantastic story for them to live through. Let’s be real: no one will finish your book if your plot stinks.
Every story is unique in its own way, but storytelling as a whole has a particular flow to it. You don’t start with the climax, right? Otherwise nothing will be as exciting as page one.
Have you ever had someone try and tell you a story that seemed to meander and then flop when there was no big payoff?
That’s because stories need structure.
Luckily for us, there are things called story structures. If you want the complete rundown on story structures, click here to read about the best structures out there. As you’re developing your own writing style, it will only help to figure out which structures click with you and which don’t.
At the core of most storytelling, however, is the time-tested three-act structure. The three-act structure works so well because it mimics our natural storytelling process: there is a beginning, a middle, and an end.
But a good story has more than just those three parts. So we’re going to go over the different aspects–or story beats–of the three-act structure. While reading about these, imagine how your own plot mirrors these beats (because spoiler, the vast majority of stories do… even the best ones).
Story beats are essential scenes or collections of scenes that progress your story forward in a way that makes sense to readers. It doesn’t mean you’re copping out or disregarding creativity, far from it.
Take one of the beats from the third act: the climax. Every story has a climax. If your story isn’t building up to a big moment, most readers aren’t going to enjoy it. So understand that structures are more like guideposts to help you tell your story, not some limiter of creativity.
With that in mind, click here to read all about the three-act structure or read Chapter Six for a detailed breakdown of this foundational structure.
It’s not just about reading though; you’re here to write! So make sure you finish the not-homework from Chapter Six and write a few sentences (for pantsers) or a few paragraphs (for plotters) for each story beat of the three-act structure.
To do that, create a new Note in your Book Roadmap, and title it Story Beats. Copy and paste the following beats, then add in all the details you want for your story:
Act One: The Setup
Plot Point One:
Act Two: The Confrontation
Plot Point Two:
Act Three: The Resolution
It should look something like this:
Trust me, you’ll be astounded with how much this simple action will add to your story.
Tomorrow, we’re going to take what you do and show you how to use it in Dabble’s amazing Plot Grid. For now, do some exploring of the Plot Grid in your project. Make some new scenes, a few Plot Points and Plot Lines, and get ready to harness this powerful tool. For some more info, you can click here.
And get ready to bring your plot to life tomorrow. See you then!
Doug from Dabble
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You’ve probably heard the terms plot-driven versus character-driven stories and maybe wondered what they mean. Like a lot of things in writing, it can be tricky to define because the lines between the two are often blurred. And what feels like a plot-driven story to one person might feel like a character-driven story to another. Which is all a little confusing. In the most basic terms, a plot-driven story is one where the plot moves the characters, while a character-driven story is one where the characters drive the plot. It sounds simple enough, and it kind of is, but also has a bit more to it than that. In this article, we’ll break it down a bit more.
While the terms "story" and "plot" are often used interchangeably, they are actually two distinct elements of narrative, and understanding the difference can be a useful tool in your storytelling arsenal. You’re going to need some of both to create a compelling book that’ll have your readers coming back for more.
Editing. That tricky little step between drafting and publishing. Okay, maybe it’s not so little. Actually, it’s kind of important. I’ll even go out on a limb and say it’s actually the most important part. And the limb is very short. But where do you start? You’ve got all these words and now you have to take your messy first draft and make them actually readable. You know editing’s a thing, but you’ve probably heard there is more than one kind of editing. One of the most comprehensive is known as content or development editing. This is often the first kind of editing any book sees and, for new writers, can be a valuable step in honing their craft.