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.