"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Monday, February 26, 2018

5 Step Formula for Plot Structure

New writers are always looking for a formula for success. Experienced writers will tell them there is none. But, don't we all have our own formulas that work for us?

I'm working on some flash fiction again, and I thought I would update my own formula for plotting. I'm a pantser first, but I always go back in revision with a similar plot checklist. Even though I'm working on shorter works now, this formula is the same no matter the length of my manuscript. The movement just occurs much faster in flash fiction.

A-B-C-D-E Plot Structure
Let these occur in chronological order, unless you want things to slow down or become confusing to the reader:

A - is for Action. Open in the middle of it - this is the focus of my first paragraph.
B - is for Backstory. If it's flash fiction, this shouldn't last more than a few sentences or paragraphs. 
C - is for Character. If the reader isn't starting to connect with your hero/heroine by now, you are in serious danger. In flash fiction, I need to relate or empathize with the protagonist right away.
D - is for Development. What are the important details, or descriptions, needed to carry the reader through to the end? How are the five senses being employed here?
E - is for Elixir. Christopher Vogler refers to the ending of the tale as the elixir. In other words, what is the prize, or goal, achieved in the ending? Will your reader be happy they invested in the time with your tale?

So, try it out. Let me know how it works for you.

Do you have a formula or checklist you use when working?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

No but I could certainly use that one.

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Have been working on story endings, the idea that until the ending is found the working out of the plot will be difficult - part of the MA course. From the work I'm doing found this extremely helpful.

Lisa Southard said...

Don't have a formula, but I do work on structure before launching into first draft mode. Agree that a story needs all these elements for full reader satisfaction.