Tuesday, September 13, 2005

High Speed Plotting!

("Greyer Grey" by Royo)
Three Questions ~ A Quick & Dirty Plotting Trick
(Shamelessly stolen from Paperback Writer's blog.)
The easiest way for me to craft a story at top speed is by picking my characters then deciding on the Final Climactic Scene. I plot the rest of the story to make that scene happen.

How do I START with Characters?
- I ask Three Questions:
1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

In Action -

1 - I am a Spy and I steal secrets from my enemies.
2 - I want to destroy my enemy.
3 - Convince me that I've been working on the wrong side all along.

1 - I'm a Vampire and a predator.
2 - I need blood to live.
3 - Make me fall in love with the one person I will destroy with my appetites.

"Three Questions" is the simplest plotting method out there, and one of the most useful for short stories. The main character’s "worst possible thing" gives me the Ordeal, the darkest moment in the story leading to the climactic battle of the Resolution. I arrange the rest of the story, the PLOT, to get them to that moment.

When you're writing a Novel, these same questions should be used to outline the drives and motives of ALL THREE of your main characters: Adversary, Proponent and Ally, (Protagonist / Antagonist / Obstacle Character, or more simply, Hero / Heroine / Villain.)

Once you know the answers to these questions for all three main characters, you have your entire story. Combining the "worst possible thing" for each of them creates your story's Darkest Moment (or Ordeal). The Inciting Event, (what starts the story rolling,) comes from "who they are, and what they do." Your Resolution. comes from "what they want".

"Three Questions" An Example
Leon: The Professional
1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

1 - I am a kid and my family has just been killed.
2 - I need to destroy my enemy – before he destroys me.
3 – Find me the perfect assassin – but make him too honorable to allow a kid to kill.

1 - I am a professional assassin. I don’t kill kids or women.
2 - I want to do my jobs and remain hidden from the police.
3 – Have me take pity on a kid and hide her from her family’s killers, but make her determined to exact revenge – against the police. Oh, and make her a loud-mouth too.

1 - I am a crooked (and happily insane,) cop.
2 - I need to protect my secrets.
3 – Make the one person that knows my secrets a child – with a professional assassin for her guardian.

Inciting Event
Escaping the murder of her family, 12-year old Mathilda takes refuge in the apartment next door, with Leon, a professional assassin.

Ordeal / Dark Moment
Having learned how to handle a gun, Mathilda trails the cop that murdered her family all the way to the precinct to kill him -- but she’s never actually killed anyone before.

The police track Mathilda back Leon’s, and all hell breaks loose.

3 Questions -- In Erotic Fiction
To BE Erotic Fiction the SEX must turn the Plot, so everything shifts - Character AND Plot to make the Sex Scenes count.

The Difference between EROTIC & EROTICA

Too many people seem to think that Erotica is any story with Sex in it. This is FAR from the Truth. A story with sex in it may be Erotic - but it is not EROTICA.

Erotica is NOT defined by how Much sex you have in the story - but WHERE you put the sex -- and WHY.
  • An EROTIC story has sex in it.
  • EROTICA is a story where the PLOT hinges on Sexual Events.
  • EROTIC ROMANCE is a story where Plot-Turning Sexual Events maps the progress of the Love Relationship DURING an Adventure.
In the average vampire story, the vampire's NEED for blood is the lynchpin for the entire plot. Whether or not he succeeds in getting that blood from the other characters rules every major turning point in the plot.
  • If the vampire has sex - then the plot is erotic.
  • If the vampire has to have sex to drink the blood he needs, then the story becomes Erotica.
  • If the vampire has to have sex to drink the blood he needs, and falls in love with his donor, and THEN has bad guys to deal with to protect his new love, then the story becomes Erotic Romance.
To use the “Three Questions” in Erotic Fiction, the answer to one (or more) of those questions should be SEXUAL.

1 - What are you, and what do you do?
2 - What do you want?
3 - What's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?

In Action -

1 - I am a Kinky Dom and I like extreme forms of SEXUAL DISCIPLINE.
2 - I want a lover that needs the type of SEX I like to give.
3 - Convince me that my lover would be better off without my sexual appetites interfering in their lives.

The PLOT would revolve around their problems Accepting their unusual sexuality, and then fitting their love into an acceptable life -- together.

By the way, this is the plot for the movie: Secretary

The BIG Secret:
The Smaller the cast – the Shorter the story.
By focusing on only THREE main characters, you keep your story TIGHT. You won’t get entangled in subplots that eat space and revision-time -- trying to chop them back out when you run over your word-count.

More on Plotting?
To BE Erotic Fiction - SEX has to drive the plot.
Quick & Dirty StoryCraft
Wrestling with Writing

Morgan Hawke

1 comment:

  1. The worst possible thing that could happen to your Kinky Dom is falling love with someone who finds Sexual Discipline the biggest Turn Off in the history of mankind.
    Unfortunately, this situation is unresolvable in a positive way, unless they agree to enjoy platonic love, so the only kind of story one could write would be drama.

    My point is--and I do have one :) -- the author needs to think hard before investing the worst possible thing because otherwise, the author might find herself in a plot without an exit. And then, illogical plot twists appear, in order to pull the characters out :)