In my blog on March 25, 2016, I wrote about my writing instructor, Judith H. Simpson. Taking her fiction writing course at Queens University in Charlotte in 2001 was a life-changing experience. Writing the 95,000-word manuscript of a historical novel with the working title The Spanish Coin has brought me much joy. When I started my writing journey, I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. Some days, I think that’s still true.
Today’s blog post looks at some of the things Judy taught about plotline. She said in developing a plotline a writer needs to consider the stakes, “that dreaded middle,” and plausibility.
No matter which genre, a book’s main character must have something at stake. Something the main character holds near and dear must be at risk.
Chances are the writer has the book’s beginning and end well in hand before “that dreaded middle” comes together. The main character must take two steps forward and one step back throughout the middle portion of the novel. Every time the main character makes progress, that forward movement must be met with a setback.
Is the plot plausible? It cannot sound contrived. When the reader finishes a book, he must be able to look back and know that the manner in which the main character went about solving her problems, dealing with conflicts, and meeting her challenges was logical.
Without high stakes, a compelling middle, and plausibility, the reader will be disappointed in the plot and, therefore, will not be satisfied when he finishes the book — IF he finishes it.
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