Understanding Plot and Story Structure

Stories (novels, movies, television shows, and plays) are comprised of three key elements: CharactersSetting, and Conflict.
All three elements work together to create the journey. That journey is the story your audience will  immerse themselves in.

Plot Structure info graphic by Katie Salidas


Setting and Characters with no Conflict is boring.
Characters cannot act out or experience their Conflict without a Setting to do it in.
All three elements must be developed fully.

Plot Structure info graphic by Katie Salidas

START BY BUILDING A BELIEVABLE WORLD FOR YOUR CHARACTERS TO LIVE IN.

You must have a sense of your world as a physical place if you want your characters to exist within it.
A character’s world plays a huge part in forming who they are. Characters are products of their environment.
Take inspiration from the world you live in, and decide how similar or different you want your fictional world to be.
  • Geography
  • Environment
  • Society
  • Religion
  • Politics
  • History


Plot Structure info graphic by Katie Salidas

CHARACTERS DO NOT HAVE TO BE LIKE-ABLE BUT THEY DO NEED TO BE REAL!

As their creator you must understand what makes your characters tick, so you know how they'll react to the conflict you throw at them.
Know your characters. Create a character bible or rule book to establish their individual personalities. Understand their likes and dislikes. What motivates them? What are their goals and aspirations? Know what role they are meant to fill within your story.
If you write a character who does terrible things without any reason, readers will not connect with those characters..
Get your reader to understand why your character is doing something —good or bad — and they'll be more likely to support and root for your character. (Even if that character is morally ambiguous.)

REAL CHARACTERS RELY ON READER EMPATHY
A character is endearing when they mirror us in some way. 
They have “Like Me” Qualities. 
Have Flaws / Quirks
Bad Days / React Poorly to Their Situation
Have Fears and Phobias
Have Dreams and Aspirations 



Plot Structure info graphic by Katie Salidas


CONFLICT IS THE KEY TO DEVELOPING CHARACTERS

▪Choose a conflict that matters to the characters.
A relationship between two people breaking down can be just as important as the fate of the entire universe. 
▪Employ internal and external conflict to create tension.
Tension is strongest when it attacks from within as well as outside of your character.
▪Create multiple sources of tension.
We all deal with conflict and tension from multiple sources, and your characters shouldn’t be different.
▪Keep raising the stakes.
Your characters need a challenge. They should try and fail a number of times. No easy wins.


SETTING + CHARACTERS + CONFLICT = PLOT

PLOT THEME
The combination of the three key elements with a primary theme (one large conflict) that sets the story in motion.

Plot Structure info graphic by Katie Salidas


Overcoming The Monster (rebellion)
Defeat an antagonistic force (often evil) which threatens the protagonist and/or protagonist's homeland.

Rags To Riches
The poor protagonist acquires power, wealth, and/or a mate, loses it all and gains it back, growing as a person as a result.

Hero’s Journey
The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after defeating the villain, returns with experience.

Rebirth
An event forces the main character to change their ways and become a better person.

Underdog (sports / heist / contest)
A loner or outcast with a special talent. Joins a group who needs their special talent. Group conflict threatens to break them up, but they come together in the end to win the day.
The Quest
The protagonist and companions set out to acquire an important object or to get to a location. They face temptations and other obstacles along the way.

Comedy
Light and humorous, conflict becoming more confusing and ridiculous until characters triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion.

Tragedy
The protagonist's character flaw or great mistake leads to their undoing.



PLOT STRUCTURE
The order of plot elements as they play off each other during the course of the story.


Plot Structure info graphic by Katie Salidas


THREE-ACT STRUCTURE

ACT I
EXPOSITION
OPENING IMAGE
        Snapshot of the Main Characters Normal life.
STORY THEME REVEALED
        What is the theme of the story? What expectations can we set up?
        SET UP THE JOURNEY
        What will the Main Character need to do to reach the goal of the story?

RISING ACTION
DEBATE
        The journey will be scary. Will the Main Character go?
CATALYST
        Something forces the Main Character to go on the journey.

ACT 2
RISING ACTION (CONTINUED)
THE CHOICE
        The Main Character chooses to go on the journey.
PROMISE OF PREMISE
        The journey is not what was expected. Harder.  
B STORY
        Side quest or strength given to Main Character to continue on the journey through Secondary Character interaction or support. 

CLIMAX
       TWIST. KINK IN THE PLAN.
       False victory or early defeat.
       BAD GUYS CLOSE IN 
       Enemies are everywhere. Infighting happening with Main Character and Allies. 

ACT 3
FALLING ACTION
All seems lost. Huge Defeat. Rock Bottom. Can the MC recover and get back on track?
RESOLUTION
DIG DEEP 
        Find a new, better plan. Choose to continue fighting.
REASSEMBLE THE TROOPS
        Set up the final confrontation.
FINALE
        The big win! Reward. Celebration. Character reflection on what happened.






Does Your Character have a Resume?

Character Bio's are important.

Writing Tips and Tricks


You have to know your character before you can write them. If you don't you'll end up writing a flat, cookie-cutter, person.

You don't want that, do you?

Of course not!

So, how do we get to know these fictional characters we just pulled out of thin air?

We give them a life and history all their own.

The simplest way to do this is to give them a resume. Pretend they're sitting down in front of you, applying to be part of your story.

Start with the basics. (beyond the image stuff, which I assume you have already come up with; hair color, eye color, skin color, height, etc...)

What is their full name?
How old are they?
Where do they live?
How long have they lived there?
Did they ever attend school? If so, where? (I write vampires, so school could mean listening to the great Socrates, discuss philosophy back in the A.D. days)
Any specialized degrees or skills?
Previous work history? (the jobs we do help to shape us as much as our education. Did your character have to work some menial job they hated? Were they some high-powered executive? For fantasy stories, rulers of Kingdoms and peasants count as well)

Now, once you have the basics out of the way. Ask your "applicant", what qualifies them to be a character in your story?

Are they applying for a main character or a secondary character position?
What special powers and/or abilities do they have?
Ask them to list one good and one bad quality about themselves.

And finally, your character needs to provide references! What kind of friends do they have? What is their family like? Do they have any enemies that they wouldn't want listed on a resume? List a few of those people in their life, both good and bad.

If you (or your character) can answer all of these questions, you will be off to a great start. The goal is to have a character that not only feels real to you, but reads as a real person to your audience.

A background and history help to create that "real" feeling that can make your character jump off the page and become someone your readers will want to follow on their journey.

More books to keep you reading all through the month!

Now that the kids are heading back to school you'll have more time to read! Here is a selection of the books on offer all through the month of August! Get your read on!

SALES AND DEALS!

Even the most powerful psychic in the world has her blind spots.
$2.99 or read Free with Kindle Unlimited


One wrong step. One unbreakable Rule. One fading hope.
$0.99 Available at all book retailers!

Darkness lies in the most heavenly places.
$3.99 Available at all book retailers!

book cover
Survival is a deadly game that Mira refuses to lose! 
$2.99 Available at all book retailers!

GROUP PROMOS!!

Starry Nights KU Bundle
Are you in the Kindle Unlimited Program? Check out these featured reads. Just click the link to see what's on offer this month.
Get these books fast! This promotion ends August 30th!


Romance Advanced Review Copies. Free books in exchange for reviews!
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ALL GENRES: Damsels Who Cause Distress: Female Characters Who Solve Their Own Problems.
Check out these amazing offerings. Just click the link to see what's on offer this month.
Get these books fast! This promotion ends September 15th!

End of Summer Sales

I can't believe I'm saying this already. Summer blew by with such amazing speed that I'm left gobsmacked at the realization that on Monday all three of my kiddos will be in school. This is the first year for my littlest. She's entering Kindergarten. It will be a whole new world for her, and me too. For the last 15 years of parenting, I've always had someone else here with me. What will I do with myself for the 6ish hours a day kid free?
Anyway, fast as this summer is going, I had better get to the sales before they are gone too.

Happy Reading.


Angel
https://storyoriginapp.com/swaps/4cf4746e-9f74-11e9-aa71-f3b2c98896b5
Duty vs Desire. Loyalty vs Love. Heaven vs Hell. When the stakes are this high, does love stand a chance?

 Review Copies

Sci-Fi/Fantasy Review Copy Reach Out
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 Clelan Reads

Clean Fantasy Creatures Reads
Check out these amazing offerings. Just click the link to see what's on offer this month.
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 KU Bundles

Starry Nights KU Bundle
Are you in the Kindle Unlimited Program? Check out these featured reads. Just click the link to see what's on offer this month.
Get these books fast! This promotion ends August 30th!
https://storyoriginapp.com/to/XVwOFRH

Have you Read and Reviewed the Agents of ASSET series books 1 and 2? If so, why not sign up to be an ARC reader for Book 3, Magic In Disguise.

Magic in Disguise
Just click the link to sign up. Requesting reviews for Amazon and Goodreads. Thanks in advance!!
https://storyoriginapp.com/reviewcopies/ca57841d-9cf2-44b9-aba0-4462ec3c3416

That's all I have for you right now. Happy Reading!!