Plot Elements

I attended the PNWA conference and one of the speakers was Cherry Adair. She talked about plot. For a good plot it must have these elements: story goal, scene goal, and black moment. A story also needs these 7 things:

  • a succession of significant events with consequences
  • things characters do, feel, think, and say
  • a way of looking and doing things
  • deciding what’s important and showing it to be important
  • showing what matters to your main character
  • one or more characters have something vital at stake
  • something happens

Cherry also suggested not to bog down the opening with details and descriptions, but open with a bang. In other words, start novel with first crisis. There must be some kind of struggle for your main character for the reader to care. The first quarter of the book is the buildup. The middle is the emotional journey and always in trouble. The last act ties up everything. Give characters choices. The main character must grow in some way by the end of the novel. Each scene must have a motivation, goal, and conflict. The higher the stakes the longer the scene.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the point of the scene?
  • What does the reader need to know?
  • What does your main character have to find out?
  • What backstory do you want inserted?
  • What is the time and place?

Emotion, thought, decision, action moves the plot. Define the character’s needs and create obstacles.

black and white blackboard business chalkboard

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Their heads bobbing up and down,

Doves peck the ground,

Resembling sewing machine needles,

Eager for fallen seeds.

Squirrels climb the pole

And hang upside down,

Stretching to reach the sunflower seeds.

Little birds flutter round,

Red-headed finches, wrens, and dark-headed chick-a-dees,

Inching their way to feed,

on the variety of seeds.

But woe to the keeper

That plucks the empty shells from the ground

animal autumn avian bird

Photo by Arek Socha on

of the scattered seeds.


Are you trying to make your writing stronger, but don’t know how? Here are some tips. Get rid of all those filtered words and make your character’s POV come alive for the reader. These words include:

  • decided
  • entered
  • noticed
  • looked
  • felt
  • heard
  • saw
  • started to
  • smelled

I know I’ve used these words myself. Every writer knows the rule, don’t tell but show, but for novice writers it may be hard to figure out. Use your five senses and the reader can visualize your story. Drop all the adverbs and use stronger verbs. For example instead of Mary looked up at the stars, try The blue glow of the stars illuminated the moon. Instead of impatiently waited, try I shifted my weight from foot to foot. Get the picture?

toys letters pay play

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Leaving The Nest

A solid mass shoulders the world,

Broad and endearing,

A wide expanse of open arms, yet a blanket of comfort

That enfolds the toughest of mongrels under her charm.

Her children, stacked from shortest to tallest,

Pillars of glistening treasures,

Claw the sky and push away her skirts,

In their eagerness to stand on their own.

Remember your roots she pleads,

Releasing them an inch at a time,

Drawing them back for one last hug,

Before they’ve gone into the world and muddied their path.

group of children walking near body of water silhouette photography

Photo by ajay bhargav GUDURU on


Here is a poem for when you’re feeling angry.


Hope ground into garnet glass, washing love’s hair gray,

As heartbreak flooded the blood-stained street.

Her nostrils flared, her palate full of lust,

Desire not quenched or rinsed,

Rage hurtled from the cracks.

Anger her shield and revenge her sword,

She charged toward her enemy.


Revenge raked her sword across the demon’s face,

Ripping away his cloak of deceit,

His wounds raw and peeled open to truth,

he begged for mercy,

But the lioness licked the crimson from her blade,

And watched with unforgiving eyes.

nature summer yellow animal

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Limerick Fun

A limerick is a five line witty poem with rhythm. The first, second, and fifth lines are longer lines and rhyme. They should have between seven to ten syllables. The third and fourth lines are shorter and rhyme. They have five to seven syllables. Here is an example:

There once was a man from Blether.

Whose skin looked like dry, old leather.

He spent all his time afloat

On a rickety old boat IMG_0749

That man just loved the sea weather.

Mother Mt. Rainer

Here is a poem I wrote. In Washington state, Mt. Rainer can be seen from many directions.

Mother mountain towers over all

And watches her wide expanse of land.

Aspens in riches of gold and orange,

Yellow-leafed beeches and giants of evergreens

Cover the hills and valleys of her domain.

Waterfalls tumble from her crevices of rock

And splash the carpet of burgundy below,

Until it flows into the river main.

Her flock gathers at her hem.

Elk, deer, rabbit, and bear at her feet

And birds-of-prey circle a halo above her.

Bigfoot’s call wavers on the wind,

Hidden in Mother’s folds,

Yet deep he pressed his feet into her mud.

Magnificent is Mother’s beauty,

Yet she suffers through summer’s heat

And winter’s sorrows,

But stays strong through it all,

And gives us faith and hope.IMG_0256.JPG



The Farmer’s Sons

Here is an old  legend I found interesting. A farmer had two sons. The eldest son went out of his way to help his father out on the farm. The youngest son ran off to the navy. On the farmer’s death bed, he left the entire estate to his eldest son. The younger son came home for the funeral and found out his father left him nothing. Wracked with jealousy and sadness, the younger son left. The longer he fumed over the situation, the more he became obsessed that he had been cheated of his birthright. He decided to seek revenge.

One night, he crept onto the farm and set the buildings on fire. The entire property burned to the ground. In the morning, only a few stones remained of the farmhouse. He received a packet in the mail. He opened it and got the shock of his life. His brother had died the previous day and had left the entire estate to him.


The Scourge of Parson Dodge

I thought with Halloween approaching that I would share a mysterious legend. The village of Talland lies along the eastern coast of Cornwall. It was known for an area of smuggling goods. Between 1713 through 1747, a vicar by the name of Parson Richard Dodge acquired a reputation as a Ghost Hunter and an Exorcist. IMG_0426

Dodge spread the tale that he saw the devil  driving a sable coach drawn by two headless horses. He spoke of demons near the Bridle Lane path which lead to the beach. The Parson ensured with this story that God-fearing folk would steer clear of the area at night and not disturb his illegal trade. He also let it be known that on his approach, evil spirits would cry out, ‘Dodge has come. I must be gone!’

His reputation as the scourge of evil spread far and wide. Legend states that the original church was to have been constructed at a nearby pulpit and work had commenced. But each day, the stones that had been laid had transported over to the present site.

A chilling voice had been rumored to command, “Fulfill my wish and build the church on Talland Hill.”

The superstitious masons complied and there it stands today.