Story Structure Tools

StorySturcturesSometimes writers fall into trappings of their own enthusiasm (see also: madness).

With this being something like my seventh major re-write of Planes Shifter, I’m trying not to make the same mistakes as my last draft. If I’m going to make mistakes, I’d like them to be different ones, please.

I’ve stopped the NaNoWriMo approach of writing anything and just throwing in randomness to fix a plot hole or move the story hole. I’ve stopped adding every “cool” idea into the gaps left.

I’ve studied the structures a writer can follow and made discoveries about what works for me. But even as I saw the warnings about not using every structure as a checklist, I’ve found myself mis-understanding the tools.

This has been helpful to recognise; because I think I’ve done it since I began writing.

 

Mis-using the System

At the weekend, I tried to plot out my story so far, and then the “major events” that are still to come using a story structuring method. It seemed to work, and then I tried to apply it to my dual POV romance and became so frustrated when it didn’t match up.

It appears that instead of writing out the key events (call to action, pinch point, middle moment of change etc) and then look at the whole story, I try to link the first two together immeadiately with a single idea or scene. I feel the pressure to fill in the gaps immeadiately; which provides a short-sighted approach and means I’ll have plot holes later on that I could have prevented if I laid out the entirety of main events and then looked at the parallel themes to link them into a flow of scenes.

Essentially, I feel the pressure to plot out every moment using this structure; because I recognise the need in myself after two years to have at least the plot planned out. And so, I’ve turned to leaning on these structures until they break.

And then I’m disappointed.

 

Defining a (Sub)Plot

I (thankfully) also recognised I’ve been mis-labelling plot for these exercises. Thanks to thinking every single scene must be in this structure, I’ve reverted back to “anything that happens ever must be in it!” which leads me to a subplot list-of-scenes called “Her powers/relationship with magic bird”, which, actually, doesn’t really have any conflicts or setbacks for most of the story. Other things will affect it; but inherently, the only changes are small forward movements.

It’s not a real subplot, it’s just a set of events created by other plots. And so it doesn’t fit into the structure.

Thus, it doesn’t NEED to fit.

Story Structures are there to help plot out major events and the vague direction of plots. The idea is that with those pillars in place, you can fill in the gaps almost however you like; not create a wall of columns.

Do you use a specific method for plotting out your stories?

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