Sunday, October 19, 2014

#Plan4WriMo Day 19: Identify Your First Plot Point

We’re back on structural elements today and delving deeper into plot. So buckle up!! Today we’re discussing the First Plot Point (FPP) which is not the same thing as your hook or your inciting incident.

Most of the “keywords” I’ll mention in these plotting posts are from Larry Brooks’ series on story structure (i.e. 6 core competencies). That’s because his definitions and explanations make sense to me in a more concrete way than any other method of plotting I’ve tried.

It works for me. It won’t work for everyone. But if you’re a plotter and you haven’t read his series on NaNoWriMo, you really should.

Especially if you’re writing YA if your FPP is also your hook, your hook is happening way too late. And that’s why it’s important to get your FPP right: It matters to agents and editors. If your FPP comes too late (and it should come around ¼ of the way through your book) you’ll get feedback that your story ‘started in the wrong place.’  If it’s not significant enough you’ll hear ‘not enough stakes’ or ‘conflict is too vague.’ The nice part about plotting is that if you figure out what your FPP is ahead of time, you don’t have to worry about that.

So what is the FPP, which Larry Brooks refers to as ‘the most important moment in your story’? It’s the moment when the story’s main conflict becomes clear to your main character—when he is given his mission. It’s the moment after which your hero can’t take it back.

Today we’re going to look back at the list of scenes we identified, at our basic pitch, and our character goals and motivations and identify our First Plot Point. And for those who are fully embracing this whole architecture and plotting thing, the links below will help you take that further to identify some smaller moments between your inciting incident and your FPP.

Some concrete FPP examples:

Harry Potter arrives at Kings Cross Station and meets Ron Weasley. Together, they board the Hogwarts Express.

At the Choosing Ceremony, Beatrice chooses Dauntless.

Katniss decides to ‘play along’ with the love story angle with Peeta in order to stay alive.

THE HUNGER GAMES’ plot architecture is pretty twisty-turny. So much that Larry devoted an entire series of blog posts to laying out its structure. It’s a great example to check out if you’ve got the time and interest.

Today’s Links:

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