You may or may not be the sort of author who likes to plot or pre-write…
but the secret that everybody knows is that diving in on November 1st without some measure of planning is a recipe for tears and probably failure. Being the helpful sort, I have researched every way you can plot a novel or short story just for you, and I’m going to share them with you over the next eleven days.
Okay, I didn’t research them just for you, but I am going to share what I know with you anyway. All of these
Most authors shy away from plotting and outlining for one of two reasons; either they are intimidated by the process, or they’re afraid that their story will be formulaic.
Let me dispel you of both of these misconceptions tout de suite. All genre fiction rely on themes, tropes, archetypal characters, and have genre expectations. Romance and erotica, in particular, lean on them a bit more heavily than others. Any romance or erotica author worth their salt knows how to write new and refreshing stories within those genre expectations and still deliver a satisfying ending. In other words, embrace the formula. It’s good for you.
As far as the intimidation goes, there is no need to be intimidated by the plotting process. There are eleven different ways to plot; one of them will suit you. At the very least you will find one that you can stretch or tweak to fit!
Today we’re going to start with Lester Dent’s Master Plot Formula.
Lester Dent was an American pulp-fiction author of 159 novels written over 16 years.
Credited as the creator of what was then seen as low-quality literature, this formula was his go-to method for cranking out six thousand word short stories. Pulp romance also had it’s hey-day during this time as well. Dent’s Master New and aspiring authors participating in #NaNoWriMo can use this plotting formula to craft eight short stories that can either become your first series or serial!
Dent’s formula divides six thousand words into 4 fifteen hundred word parts. Of course, you can use this same method to write a longer novel, but let’s start here.
1. Begin with as many as possible:
- a murder/crime/death
- a goal for the villain/antagonist
- a new location
- a menace which will hang over the hero/heroine’s head like a cloud
2. Introduce the hero/heroine.
3. Have hero/heroine meet in a way that causes immediate internal conflict.
4. Hint/foreshadow attraction and the mystery/problem that is keeping them apart.
5. Introduce ALL other characters.
6. Put the heroine in physical conflict with the hero that makes the attraction undeniable.
7. Plot twist at the end of this section that brings together the internal and external conflict.
1. The Hero and heroine are forced together which creates even more internal conflict for these two who have very real reasons for why they can’t act on their attraction.
2. The Hero and heroine struggle to resist the attraction, but it can’t be avoided or ignored and ultimately they fail.
3. The Hero and heroine act on their attraction in some physical way.
4. A surprising plot twist renews their distrust in each other and reinforces the reason why this interaction can’t go any further.
1. The Hero is in, you guessed it, MORE TROUBLE born from his attraction to the heroine.
2. He makes a bit of leeway; finds a way to get what he wants and the girl, too.
3. He corners the villain and is rewarded…
4. With true intimacy with the Heroine. (This is probably sex.)
5. A surprising plot twist that ends badly for the Hero/Heroine.
1. The Hero/Heroine is seemingly insurmountable trouble.
2. The Hero/Heroine extracts themselves using their own will/skill/training/brawn.
3. Remaining mysteries resolved as…
4. The Hero/Heroine and acknowledges their his attraction/affection for the other.
5. Final bit plot twist!
6. The glimpse at their Happily Ever After/Happy For Now.
As you’re working through each part of this formula, ask yourself these questions:
1. Have you increased the suspense/tension?
2. Has the menace become more threatening?
3. Are these plot points following a logical progression?
4. Are the actions varied? Meaning, are you writing a different action for each part?
5. Is the action ramped up from one part to the next?
6. Are you making sure that you are showing and not telling?
7. Is the triumph convincing?
8. Is the ending satisfying for readers?
As you can see, this outline calls for a fast paced, action packed story that is strung taut with sexual tension and steeped in the delicious sort of conflict.
Obviously, I have tweaked Dent’s original Master Plot Formula to include some key romance and erotica storylines, but if you want to read the original you can find it here.
If this particular plotting formula didn’t work for you, stop by tomorrow to check out Dan Wells’s Seven Point Plot Structure. Until then…