How to Plot Fiendishly

I was recently asked about how I come up with the concept for the plot in the stories I write. I thought about that, and realized I have an idea I’d like to portray: I start with a character. Then I put that character in a place and a reason why he/she is there. What’s happening? The conflict begins. The character is opposed by another character, or by a disturbing situation – natural or otherwise – or by a dilemma within his/her own thinking. That sets the situation as the conflict begins. The tension builds and alters and builds. Gradually everything worsens the tension until it seems there is no solution at all. The character – hero or heroine – is going to lose everything. The excruciating threat is revealed as the hero/heroine musters all his/her strength to face the inevitable – the climax. All this struggle changes someone or something never to be the same again, and then all is as it has to be. A conclusion is reached and it must satisfy the reader that it is the only way it could end. There is no way I could write a tragedy. Having the hero/heroin lose everything even up to his/her life is just not something I’m prepared to read or write. Life is a struggle, but we must carry on somehow and hopefully win at something. To be sure of continuity, I reread what I wrote during my last work session. It puts me back in the situation and “in the picture.” Then I simply ask myself, “What happens next?” With or without a segway or omen, the continuity must be consistent and not jump. Always one step at a time. Thus if an outline has been created it makes it easier to realize that no steps have been omitted. (1) Setting – orientation (2) Beginning of conflict (3) Tension mounts (4) The worst is realized, there is no hope (5) Climax of conflicting forces (6) Something basic changes (7) Satisfying conclusion

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