Daily Archives: October 13, 2011

Plot is Exactly Like a Hail Storm

Yesterday’s plot weather stats.

  • 7:46 Temperature: 56 degrees, drizzly and windy.  Drop Littles off at school.
  • 11:25 Temperature: 71 degrees, sunny, mild breeze.  Watched boys play at recess in shorts and t-shirts.
  • 2:39 Temperature: 73 degrees, sunny and still.  Checked mail.
  • 2:57 Temperature: 66 degrees, thunder, gray.  Peeked out window after finishing a chapter.
  • 3:12 Temperature: 60 degrees, rain.  Got ready to pick up boys from school.
  • 3:17 Temperature: 54 degrees, hail.  Watched it accumulate.
  • 3:27 Temperature: 56 degrees, cloudy with a few sprinkles.  Picked up boys.
  • 3:45 Temperature:  67 degrees, sunny.  Watched boys play with hail in shorts and t-shirts.  And bare feet.

Great plot is exactly like this magical reprieve in the middle of an otherwise warm, fall day.

Don’t believe me?  Try this.  Your story is a single day.

Beginning.  Middle.  End.

Dawn kicks off our stories with an inciting incident.  It introduces us to our characters and provides the backdrop for which our story takes place.  It’s the drizzly morning that prepares us for the rest of the day.

Dusk brings our stories full circle.  Conflicts have been resolved and a certain satisfaction sets in as we crawl into bed.  We’ve accomplished much in the hours between rising and resting.  Every story must end, just as the sun dips below the horizon every day.  Guaranteed.

But the magic is in the middle.  Winds gust, temperatures fluctuate–sometimes wildly–and the skies darken and shine as our characters encounter and overcome conflicts.

With great plot, unexpected twists rain down on our characters.  These twists delight and excite readers.  They drive the action and change the course of the story.  They can also make or break a novel depending on how they are handled.

How do you increase tension in your writing?  Are you deliberate about it, or do an unexpected plot twist sneak up on as well as your MC?  Do you feel it’s important to foreshadow major turning points in  your manuscript?  If so, why and how do you do this?  If not, what is the value of blindsiding your readers?

Curious minds want to know.