My outline is written, the plot points highlighted, my characters are ready to jump in. To be honest, they already have! NaNoWriMo started November 1st. Of the 50,000 words I am challenged to write this month, I am already 12,846 in. The reason I know the number, down to the word, is that the NaNoWriMo site keeps tract to support writers on their journey. If you want to join us, it is never to late! Sign up and join in.
There are many pansters, people who write as ideas come to them, also know as gardeners who take part in NaNoWriMo, I tried but failed. I found the beginning each writing session without an idea of where story was going was too daunting for me. Somedays I spent my writing time writing myself into corners and then having to write myself out of them again. It was stressful and the book was shelved as a learning experience.
Since then, I took classes to explore writing, editing, and the publishing industry. They were also great learning experiences, but I was no closer to writing the first draft of a full length novel. Then I found outlining. A nice way for me to explore my characters and put them into challenging situations. For me this looked like a good fit. It is the reason I picked up Plot Development Step by Step, the workbook the Pillars used for the novella I am writing this NaNoWriMo are outlined from.
Pillar V, The Tension Graph, is a validation method for the tension building of the plot. The first step was determine my novella’s story arc. The three main arcs mentioned in the book are the Traditional Arc, The Cliffhanger Arc, and The “Soft” Cliffhanger Arc.
The three charts below are from the Plot Development book and can be found on their podcast:
The tension increases until the story climax. Stand alone stories, such as romances, have this arc.
The tension increases until the story ends with a dramatic twist or the character is left in a precarious situation. Serial stories often have this arc.
The tension increases and the main plot ends. There is second inciting incident at the end of the story. Book series often follow this arc.
As my novella is a prequel to a trilogy, my intention is for story to end with a soft cliffhanger arc. For Ally and Riley to have a complete adventure with ends in an inkling of how the next book will start. As the trilogy is already in draft form, it is the best way for me to end the story.
So I need to determine the tension level of each scene. As every scene should move in a positive or negative direction, there should be movement progressing in one of the two directions. I then look at the cumulation of the tension build and where it increases and lay it on the appropriate story arc. Does it align well? Are there places where there is a prolonged time before tension builds? This is the time to go back and change around the outline so the tension continues to rise, and the story is well paced.
For my outline, the ending, or the denouement, is still incomplete. I need to reflect on how I will built the second inciting incident. Do I want it to lead into Veiled Shadows, Book 1 of the River Run Series? Or do I want to add another prequel novella or short story before the series begins. It is something I will have to reflect on while I am writing this month!
I suggest you go out and read your favourite book(s) and see how they end. Then you too will know your preferences. And who does not love reliving their favourites stories? Happy reading!
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