A Strong PLOT,
A Great HOOK,
An Enticing MIDDLE,
A Satisfying CONCLUSION
By Billie A Williams
“A good beginning gains your reader’s initial interest; a good ending makes your story linger in his memory after he closes the book or magazine.”--Nancy Kress
“Plot refers to the characters and the events that fulfill the story in a specific way,” says Elizabeth Lyon in A Writer’s Guide to Fiction.
A story plot with a dramatic structure features a protagonist with a problem which she tries to solve or resolve. The story itself is has a universal theme but the plot is a particular problem in this one universal theme.
In Jurassic Park and Airframe, Michael Crichton’s character’s are important to the story but they are secondary to the plot. However, plot alone cannot sustain a story, you need characters. It’s their struggle to resolve the story problem that entices the reader. “Plot is built of significant events in a given story…significant because they have important consequences.” Ansen Dibell says in the Writer’s Digest book Plot.
Cause and effect make plot. Plot is the things characters do, feel, think or say that make a difference to what comes afterward. Struggle, conflict, dissatisfaction, aspiration, choice; are the basis of effective plots.
“What we are familiar with, we cease to see.” Elizabeth Lyon
Hook, Character, conflict, specificity and credibility. Begin with an indication a subtle or overt indication that something is not going as expected, something is about to change for the worse. Someone is experiencing disturbing emotions; at the very least their ordinary-status-quo day is going to be critically interrupted. This will draw your reader into your story with unanswered questions about the characters fate.
Your middle can be loosely defined as everything after the introduction of the main characters and the conflict that is driving their story and before the climax. In the beginning you have met the major characters and know to some extent what their story goal is, what they want or don’t want. The middle is the showing of that struggle to reach their story goals. It is the largest part of your story and it is imperative that you keep it from sagging. Think of it as the bridge between the beginning and the end. Or think of it as the limousine passenger area. The driver (the beginning) the trunk (the end).
“The middle of a story develops the story’s implicit promise by dramatizing incidents that increase conflict, reveal character and put in place all the various forces that will collide at the story’s climax.”
Emerging naturally out of the characters and situation, the middle develops the forces that push your story forward.
The ending must complete what has been promised in the beginning. It should have four things.
A. Satisfy view of life implied in the story itself.
B. As a climax it must deliver emotion
C. The emotion delivered should be at the appropriate level to compliment the story.
D. It must be logical to your plot and faithful to your story.
“If my protagonist were a radically different person, would this story still end the same?” The answer must be no, otherwise the ending is not convincing and thus, not true to the story.
Your ending grows naturally out of the actions, thoughts and feelings of your characters. Another consideration is that your climax must be in proportion to story length. Consider your story as the engine, and your climax as the chassis of your vehicle of story.
“Closure means you give your readers enough information about the fate of the characters for them to feel that the book really is over.” Ansen Dibell
Show just enough of your characters futures so that your reader doesn’t feel that he’s been left hanging before you present your final paragraph. Thus, the reader is satisfied that all your loose ends have been tied up neatly and adequately.
Billie A Williams is the author of over fifty books, most fiction is mystery suspense. You will find most of her books at her website at http://www.billieawilliams.com
She also has authored 7 books on writing available on Amazon or wherever you normally buy your books. Check out A Writer's Vehicle for a different slant on what the writer can learn from Henry Ford. http://tinyurl.com/cbhskw5