How to Create a Plot for a Novel
Plotting Has Five Basic Elements in Every Fiction Story
- Jul 22, 2009
- Suzanne Pitner
Every Novel Needs a Strong Plot – Jay at Freephotos
People have always told stories, and the most memorable ones have a strong plot. What is a story plot, and how can a writer come up with a good one when writing a novel?
Plotting a novel can sometimes seem difficult to writers. Writing the plot is often the point where writers block is the worst. Knowing the five basic elements of a plot can help the writer outline the plot and get past the planning stage to the writing stage.
Five Basic Plot Elements
Although every story is different, with unique characters, setting, and conflict, the plot will always contain key elements. The plot elements consist of these five things:
- Setting or Situation
- Important Goal
The character and setting can be anything the writer imagines. The main character must have a goal that is more important than anything else in his life. The conflict is the person or thing that stops the main character from reaching his goal. As the character strives against the conflict, disaster strikes. The reader must wonder if the character will ever reach his goal.
ตัวอย่างข้างล่างนี้เป็นการใช้plotพื้นฐาน5แบบที่เราได้รู้แล้ว กับการสร้าง plot เรื่องของนิยาย เรื่องสั้นแนวไซไฟ
It may seem simplistic, but that is really all there is to plot. Here is an example of the five basic plot elements applied to a science fiction story line.
- Alexander Passat is a Nobel prize winning scientist on the space ship Albatross. (Character.)
- He notices that the men and women on board the ship begin to grow younger. (Situation.)
- Knowing that an undesirable force is at work, he must find out why this is happening and stop it. (Important Goal.)
- The captain of the ship thinks it’s wonderful that everyone is getting younger, and he takes away Alexander’s access to the ship’s science labs, so that he can’t interfere with the newfound youthfulness. (Conflict.)
- As the crew all begin turning into children, they lose the ability to navigate the ship. Will Alexander be able to solve the problem and reverse the process before they all turn into infants and die? (Disaster.)
The resolution to the disaster is the climax of the story.
Write a Plot in One or Two Sentences
Using the five basic plot elements, a writer can come up with a plot in a short amount of time. Coming up with several ideas will give plenty of options for a new story. Once the five basic elements are decided upon, the plot can be condensed into one or two sentences.
Using the example of the science fiction story, the condensed plot might read like this:
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Alexander Passat, a Nobel prize winning scientist on board the spaceship Albatross, has discovered an evil force is reversing the aging process of the crew, turning them into infants. In spite of opposition from the captain, and being banned from the science labs, he is the only one who can save the lives of the crew and the ship.
This plot condensation is what agents and editors call the high concept statement. When they ask what a story is about, a writer should be able to tell them in one or two sentences. It’s also jokingly referred to as an elevator pitch, in reference to writers pitching a story to an editor when meeting in an elevator at a conference.
This high concept statement should have emotional impact so that it will intrigue the audience. It may be used as the book jacket blurb on the back of a novel. This blurb can be the deciding factor that makes a reader buy a book or put it back on the shelf.
Genres Have Specific Plot Structure
In the romance genre, the hero and heroine must meet within the first two chapters of the book. They must feel an intense attraction or repulsion to each other. Eventually they must decide they are attracted to each other, and confirm their love, or lust. Then they must have a conflict that keeps them apart. In the end, they overcome the conflict with a happily ever after, known in the industry as the HEA.
In westerns, the hero has a goal, and a villain tries to thwart him, creating a conflict. The hero will try to defeat the villain’s plan, only to have the villain come back harder than ever. Hero and villain test their wills and strengths against one another, and in the end the hero wins.
Readers of genre fiction expect a certain type of plot. This is why the formula plot works well. To be an author in a specific genre, the writer must first become familiar with the accepted formula for that genre. Then, each of the five basic plot elements can be built around the genre guidelines.
Plotting a novel or short story can be made easier by using the five basic plot elements. Using these elements to create a high concept statement will help the writer define the plot, and keep the novel focused on the goals of the characters. Strong characters with important goals and tremendous conflicts make for memorable stories.
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